R.I.P. Cricket. Now It’s Time to Talk About Kristi Noem’s Goat.


In the universal outrage over South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem executing her wire-haired pointer Cricket, another victim of her cruelty seems to have been forgotten: the male goat she dragged to the same gravel pit and shot dead.

Based on Noem’s own description of the incident in her upcoming memoir, it seems likely that the animal died a terrifying death. It’s crime? It had a “disgusting, musky, rancid” smell and butted her children so they fell down and got their clothes dirty.

It’s unclear why Noem, who loves to talk about how she was raised on a farm, was surprised by this behavior: Male goats in rut—a state of arousal during breeding season—become more aggressive and urinate on themselves to generate a smell that only a female of its species could love.

The killing of the goat did not go as smoothly as the shooting of Cricket just before it. Noem wrote that the first shot only caused the goat to jump, so she had to leave the wounded animal and return to her truck to get another “shell.”

That suggests she was using a shotgun and not a rifle, which would require a round or a cartridge, not a shell. Anybody who knows about goats can tell you that their skulls evolved for head-butting and are generally well able to withstand a shotgun blast.

“I would never use one of those,” Arkansas goat farmer Sarah Fish told The Daily Beast. “I don’t know how far it would penetrate.”

Sarah Fish and her husband with two of their goats.

Courtesy Sarah Fish

By Fish’s considerable experience, a small-caliber rifle in just the right spot does the job with one shot and no added suffering.

“We actually put ours down with just a .22,” Fish said. “The front of the skull is really strong, but if you look behind their horns, it’s actually really weak back there. And so that’s where we typically put them down. You just have to find that spot.”

She raises goats for food and in 10 years, she only needed to fire twice on a single occasion.

“And I put down a lot, because we eat a lot of ours,” she said.

It’s not known why Noem owned the goat. But Fish said it did not need to face the death penalty for chasing the human kids.

“I would recommend the goat be penned up away from the kids,” she said.

She suggested that goat’s behavior may have resulted from Noem’s failure to set boundaries for it early on.

“A lot of people don’t realize they think it’s all fun when the goats are babies, and they play with them in a way that they shouldn’t,” Fish said. “And as they grow, they see you as competition. They don’t respect you like they respect other goats.”

Fish noted that mother goats keep weaned little ones at a distance.

“They’ll throw them in the air,” Fish said. “It’s basically tough love. It’s teaching them boundaries. It’s teaching them how to behave.”

She went on, “As human beings we’re nurturing and caring and ‘Oh, they’re rubbing their head on my leg’ and ‘Oh, that’s cute.’ But it’s actually teaching them bad manners.”

If you then push away a young goat that’s rubbing its head against your leg, its natural impulse is to come right back and butt.

“I would flick them in the nose and that makes them turn their head away,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt them, but it’s like kind of irritating, so they quit doing it. And so we just teach boundaries with our goats from the get-go.”

Kristi Noem

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via Getty

Noem apparently failed to set boundaries for her 14-month-old dog, which angered her by killing a neighbor’s chicken and trying to bite her. Experts have said the dog could have been retrained or rehomed instead of being offed by its owner.

Word of Noem’s serial animal-killing spree appears to have doomed any chance she will be chosen as Donald Trump’s running mate—long seen as a burning ambition for her. In a desperate attempt at damage control, Noem tried to portray her slaughtering as a rural reality.

“We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm,” she said on social media.

The goat gets shot… but the brains intact, it’s aware of what’s going on. And then she has to go and futz around and get another shell and then come back and do the same thing and it finally expires.

Arizona goat farmer

An Arizona goat farmer who asked not to be named for fear of being embroiled in partisan politics said Noem’s decision to use a weapon on the goat that required more than one shot was tougher on the animal than it was on her.

“The goat gets shot… but the brains intact, it’s aware of what’s going on,” the farmer said. “And then she has to go and futz around and get another shell and then come back and do the same thing and it finally expires.”

The farmer suggested that Noem’s account “reveals not just callousness toward life and poor political acumen, but also a limited understanding of the basics of farm life.”

The public has been mainly fixated on the brutal death of Noem’s dog, who was, after all, a domestic pet. The demise of the goat, meanwhile, has gotten relatively little attention.

Perhaps people would care more if it had a name like Cricket did. I suggest Veep, in recognition of a possibility that now seems to be as dead as a goat in a gravel pit.



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