Farmer Boss on Noem’s Puppy-Killing Excuse: That’s Cow Dung!

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters/Grant Wood
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters/Grant Wood

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem reacted to outrage over her revelation that she shot her family’s “hated” 14-month-old dog dead by insisting that executing animals is just an unfortunate reality of farm life.

But the leader of the farmers union in her own state says that’s a steaming pile of cow pies.

“This is not a common thing at all,” South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke, a self-described “working class Democrat,” told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “I don’t know where she comes off thinking that’s the right thing to do. It’s just not.”

“It’s really an embarrassment,” he added. “That’s not how South Dakotans are.”

The Republican lawmaker—who fancied herself a contender to be Donald Trump’s running mate—faced a firestorm of fury when The Guardian reported on an excerpt of her forthcoming book, No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward.

Kristi Noem Bailed on Fox News Because of Snow. So They Nuked Her.

Noem details how she killed her wirehaired pointer puppy, Cricket, near a gravel pit on her property because he was “untrainable,” killed a neighbor's chicken, and tried to bite her. She wrote that killing Cricket was “not a pleasant job” but it “had to be done.”

“We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm. Sadly, we just had to put down 3 horses a few weeks ago that had been in our family for 25 years," she tweeted on April 26 in response to the growing bipartisan backlash that turned her into a national punchline overnight. “If you want more real, honest, and politically INcorrect stories that’ll have the media gasping, preorder ‘No Going Back.’”

While the episode is widely thought to have doomed her national political chances, Noem has not backed down and even suggested President Joe Biden’s dog Commander, who was reportedly exiled from the White House for biting Secret Service agents, should have been put down.

At the farmer’s union, the Noem drama is going down like a billy goat hit with a shotgun blast.

“It is not a day-to-day occurrence like she is making it sound,” Sombke, a fourth-generation farmer, said. While it may have happened in an isolated incident, he said, farmers certainly don’t brag about it—much less try to score political points or book sales off it.

“We have our family farms and pets and you just don’t tell anyone that kind of stuff,” he said. “It’s really troubling to think she thought that was such a good thing to say.”

Since the scandal erupted, he said, everyone he has spoken with has brought up Noem’s comments and believes the governor is doing South Dakota a “disfavor” by making the story her “go-to” topic.

“Now, if her purpose was to sell more books and gain attention at a time when we have a former president who is facing criminal charges, I think she accomplished that,” he added.

But, he said, the state’s farming community is not wasting too much time worrying about Noem.

“They’re busy living their lives. They’re all rolling their eyes and saying, ‘What the hell’ but they are also planting their crops and handling their livestock. They just are saying, ‘Wow, here it goes, a big mouth politician’,” he said. “It’s definitely an embarrassment.”

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