Hunting dog experts weigh in on South Dakota governor’s alarming tale

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been facing widespread backlash for a gruesome story set to appear in her soon-to-be-released book. Some experts say even they’re alarmed by the account.

In her upcoming book, Noem (R) describes shooting and killing a 14-month-old German wirehaired pointer named Cricket after a bad hunting trip roughly 20 years ago. According to reports, Noem wrote that the young dog chased pheasants during the trip, attacked someone’s chickens, and snapped at Noem when she tried to stop him.

“I hated that dog,” she wrote, adding that Cricket was untrainable, dangerous, and worthless as a hunting dog. Noem then explains how she led Cricket to a gravel pit on her property and shot the young dog, writing it was “not a pleasant job” but it “had to be done.”

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The story garnered mass criticism, The Hill reports, though Noem recently said the anecdote shows constituents that she is “authentic, willing to learn from the past, and [doesn’t] shy away from tough challenges.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem takes part in a panel discussion, Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. S (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem takes part in a panel discussion, Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. S (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Dan Griffith, a South Dakota dog trainer who has worked with hunting dogs for decades, tells Nexstar’s KELO that his heart broke after learning the news about Noem’s dog Cricket.

He introduced KELO to the dog he is training this week, 13-week-old Pepper. The German wirehaired pointer became familiar with her first pheasant.

“The next bird I’ll introduce is one that will be dead and cold, but not frozen. Then I’ll introduce a warm bird,” Griffith said.

While Pepper is making progress in her training, Griffith says it takes time for dogs to mature.

“A dog’s not mature until they’re 2 years old,” Griffith said.

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Bob Uecker is a longtime dog breeder and hunter.

“I think any dog probably isn’t a good hunter or a great dog until they’re like 3 or 4 years old because then they’ve started to settle down a little bit. And by 5, you’ve got the perfect dog. Five, 6, 7, you’ve got a great dog,” Uecker said.

He noted there are always options when you’re having issues with a dog.

“You can rehome dogs and I’ve helped other people do that. You can go to a dog behaviorist and find out if there’s an underlying issue with the dog that needs to be corrected and usually they can. Obviously, we’re finding out that sometimes people choose other options, and that’s for them to decide,” Uecker said. He also recommends getting your dog a check-up at the vet before deciding to put it down.

As Griffith continues working with Pepper, he’s sick about what happened to Cricket.

“I just think a lot of really great things are happening in South Dakota, and this really broke my heart,” Griffith said.

As for Noem, The Hill reports the anecdote about Cricket, as well as other recent controversies involving her, may have ruined her prospects of serving as former President Donald Trump’s 2024 running mate.

“There’s so many things wrong with that story on so many levels,” one Republican strategist told The Hill, adding they were confounded by the fact Noem had months to write, edit and publish the book and still left the story of shooting the dog in the final draft. “She’s basically taken herself out of the running to be VP.”

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