Trump Allies Hope Kristi Noem’s Puppy Killing Also Kills Her VP Chances

All dogs go to heaven, but South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s puppy-executing ways may have just cost her a chance at entering the promised land of the White House as Donald Trump’s running mate.

Several Republicans close to Trump — who, admittedly, are aligned with others vying for the Trump VP slot, or who simply don’t like Noem — are using the MAGA governor’s story of shooting and killing an unruly puppy to try to help nuke the former president’s opinion of her. In the days since the story from Noem’s memoir went viral, multiple Trump allies and confidants flagged the dog-killing and press coverage of it directly to Trump, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter and another source briefed on it, hoping it would cause him to view her as an out-of-touch buffoon.

Trump has been the presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee for nearly two months now, which means the intra-party jockeying between the rival camps pushing different GOP veep picks has had plenty of time to get ugly. It wasn’t surprising that elite conservatives who are boosting non-Noem contenders could barely conceal their glee over the weekend, ecstatic that the governor essentially did their work for them and delivered such a uniquely awful self-inflicted wound. “She did oppo against herself,” one Trump adviser says, mockingly.

Another individual close to the Trump campaign told Semafor that Noem “just keeps proving over and over that she’s a lightweight.”

Last week, The Guardian obtained an advanced copy of Noem’s upcoming book, No Going Back. In the political memoir, the governor details the story of Cricket, a 14-month-old wire-haired pointer puppy she intended to use as a pheasant-hunting dog. After an ill-fated hunt during which Cricket spent more time “out of her mind with excitement” chasing birds than following her owner’s commands — and then proceeded to take out her instincts on some unfortunate local chickens — Noem took Cricket to a gravel pit and executed what she called a “worthless” dog she “hated.”

The story drew immediate backlash from those understandably disturbed at the notion of someone bragging about killing a perfectly healthy animal over instinctual behavior.

Dan Lussen, a professional hunting-dog trainer, told Rolling Stone that a 14-month-old dog is a “baby that doesn’t know any better.”

“Why would you put a dog down with these instincts? It’s a hunting dog, and you got chickens — he doesn’t know the difference,” Lussen added.

Zak George, a professional dog trainer, told CNN over the weekend that the behavior exhibited by Cricket was “very typical adolescent behavior out of a dog that’s been bred to have endless stamina and endurance.”

On Sunday, Noem doubled down on her decision to put down Cricket, as well as an aging goat on her farm, writing in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that “South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down.”

“Given that Cricket had shown aggressive behavior toward people by biting them, I decided what I did,” she added. The governor’s claim that Cricket had bitten multiple individuals was not recounted in The Guardian’s original retelling of the anecdote.

“Whether running the ranch or in politics, I have never passed on my responsibilities to anyone else to handle. Even if it’s hard and painful. I followed the law and was being a responsible parent, dog owner, and neighbor,” Noem added.

While Trump’s allies may be trying to use the story to bury Noem’s VP chances, Trump’s past comments indicate he doesn’t exactly have a soft spot for dogs.

The former president often uses canine descriptors as insults toward his enemies and political opponents. He famously said that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died “like a dog,” remarked that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was “sweating like a dog” during a 2016 debate, and said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) “choked like a dog” during his ill-fated 2012 run for the presidency.

Trump has yet to comment publicly on Noem killing her dog.

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