Trump ‘Disgusted’ by Kristi Noem’s Puppy Execution Story

Donald Trump is privately trashing South Dakota’s MAGA Gov. Kristi Noem for executing her puppy and writing about it in her forthcoming memoir — a matter that appears to have closed the book on the idea of selecting her as a vice presidential nominee.

During conversations with close political allies and other confidants, sources say, the former president has repeatedly brought up the incident, including as recently as in the past couple days, to criticize Noem and question her political acumen. 

This reporting is based on four sources familiar with the matter, and another two people briefed on it. Over the last few days, all but one source on this story approached Rolling Stone unprompted to describe recent discussions with Trump, or brought up the topic unsolicited during unrelated conversations. 

Some of the sources candidly said they were disclosing these private details because they want Noem permanently eliminated from Trump’s 2024 vice presidential shortlist, or because they despise Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former 2016 campaign chief who has advised Noem for years. Some separately said they were discussing this simply because Trump had been talking about Noem’s puppy slaying so frequently that it was, in the words of one of the sources, “getting kind of ridiculous” how “disgusted” the former president sounded about this and how much he has been “taunting” Noem behind her back.

Last week, The Guardian reported that Noem wrote in her new book about how she took her 14-month-old puppy, Cricket — a dog she “hated” — to a gravel pit and executed her, after the hunting dog displayed unruly behavior, including harming some of her neighbor’s chickens. The memoir, No Going Back, is set for release next week, with a blurb from Trump calling Noem a “tremendous leader” and her book “a winner.” 

In recent days, the former president has discussed or brought up Noem’s pup-execution in closed-door meetings, as well as over the phone. Trump, sources recount, has pointedly asked questions regarding her decision to kill the dog, including specifically, “Why would she do that?” and “What is wrong with her?” He has expressed bewilderment that she would have ever admitted to doing this, willingly and in her own writing, and has argued it demonstrates she has a poor grasp of “public relations.” In these various conversations over the past week, the ex-president has also mentioned that voters generally don’t like politicians who kill dogs, two of the people familiar with the matter add.

Among the upper crust of MAGAland, Noem has long been considered a contender for Trump’s 2024 veep pick, though she was often viewed as a longshot. Those hopes appear to be dead now, after longtime allies and other conservatives close to Trump actively worked to place news stories about Noem and the dog in front of him, as Rolling Stone reported earlier this week.

Noem defended executing Cricket in an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, telling host and informal Trump adviser Sean Hannity that the 14-month-old canine “was a working dog and it was not a puppy.”

“The reason it’s in the book is because this book is filled with tough, challenging decisions that I had to make throughout my life,” she added.

Noem was previously scheduled to headline a fundraiser on Saturday for Jefferson County Republicans in Lakewood, Colorado. The event was canceled due to apparent “safety concerns.” 


The group wrote that “we were excited to have [Noem] speak at our annual fundraiser,” adding, “The timing was perfect, as it was just prior to her new book being released. We had no prior knowledge of the contents of the book when we invited her.”

As a result of “mainstream media coverage” about the book, the group said it has received death threats and its event was set to face protests. “Please know that the Jefferson County Republican Party is not taking a position on the public outcry on the governor’s book,” the group wrote.