South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s bid for Donald Trump’s VP slot on the Republican ticket blew up in recent days, unless the Trump team grossly underestimates how much Americans love their dogs and other animals.

Ahead of upcoming release of Noem’s new book, “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward,” The Guardian news outlet obtained a copy, and the biggest revelation appears not to be what’s wrong with politics, but what’s wrong with Noem.

Noem, who served in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 2007 to 2019 prior to becoming governor, is also a hunter. Guardian writer Martin Pengelly reports that Noem writes in the book about her 14-month-old (still a puppy) wirehair pointer named Cricket.

These dogs require vigorous exercise and can be rowdy and highly exuberant when not exercised sufficiently, particularly when young. They need a confident owner.

Cricket was a female with an “aggressive personality” who needed training to hunt pheasant, wrote Noem. So Noem took Cricket out on pheasant run with other older dogs for training. But young girls just want to have fun. Cricket was “out of her mind with excitement, chasing all those birds and having the time of her life.”

After the outing, which Noem considered ruined by Cricket, she stopped to talk with a local family, and Cricket, apparently not secured in Noem’s truck, escaped and headed for the family’s chickens. Chaos and chicken death ensued. Cricket was just having fun, with no idea of what was about to befall her.

“I hated that dog,” Noem recounts in the book, finding young Cricket “untrainable,” “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with” and “less than worthless … as a hunting dog.” Noem appears to place the blame for that on the dog, not herself.

Summary execution from Noem was near.

After her day of frolicking and joy, Cricket was then led by Noem to a gravel pit where she was executed.

By then, perhaps all fired up to dispatch any creature that didn’t fit Noem’s view of acceptable behavior, Noem shot a male goat she viewed as “nasty and mean,” because it wasn’t castrated (again, whose fault was that?), and who chased the kids and smelled “disgusting, musky, rancid.”

The goat also met his unnecessary fate in the gravel pit, in a story that sounds like the South Dakota version of Tony Soprano.

Since the Guardian story and wide pick-up of the animal executions, Noem has not backed down on her position that the story was an illustration of making “tough, challenging decisions.” Defining the dog as a “working dog,” seems to justify for her the act of putting it down. But the more Noem responds to what the majority of people see as indefensible, the bigger the hole she digs for herself in her own gravel pit.

Death for these animals was the only option in her mind? What about rehoming, sending the dog to training with someone else? How about letting the goat have its own enclosed space and keeping the kids away? Could the goat still be neutered? Would a hose down have helped with its smell?

As a potential VP pick, the concern is that her judgment is this poor. We’ve already endured nearly four years of a president and VP with poor judgment – this country can’t endure more.

Noem’s story reminded me of a friend who said when he was an older teen, he took Halloween candy from the younger children. Even as a grown man, he didn’t seem to recognize that what he had done as a teenager was wrong. He still thought taking candy from kids was funny. And like Noem, he didn’t have any awareness that it was a story you don’t tell other people because it reflects very poorly on him.

Mahatma Gandhi, who used nonviolent resistance in the campaign he led to obtain independence for India from British rule, said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Noem doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Maria Fotopoulos writes about the connection between overpopulation and biodiversity loss. Contact her on Facebook @BetheChangeforAnimals and

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