When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them

I’m truly glad people care about dogs. I just wish they’d care about other vulnerable beings as well.

Marla Rose
3 min readApr 30, 2024
Credit: Inside Edition

There is a lot that is messed up about this country, but the U.S. is a nation of dog lovers. According to recent companion animal statistics, more than 65 million U.S. households have at least one dog. Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is finding out the hard way that leaning into cruelty to animals, particularly beloved companion animals like dogs, is not doing her any favors as early word about her upcoming memoir, where she describes executing an untrained 14-month-old dog named Cricket for being unruly and a goat for being “nasty and mean” and having an unpleasant smell. They were both killed by Noem herself with a shotgun in a gravel pit.

The early backlash is so strong on a book that hasn’t even been released yet, even Republicans, ones who delight in proving how insensitive and “anti-woke” they are, are distancing themselves from Noem. Considered at one point a frontrunner for Donald Trump’s VP choice, even he — who has bragged about sexual assault, who is the defendant in four upcoming criminal trials, including one in which he is charged with attempting to subvert the Constitution and overturn the results of a fair election to remain in power, who frequently uses the word “dog” as a pejorative — is allegedly no longer considering Noem as his running mate, not because he likes dogs but because even he can see her baggage is too burdensome. Again, this is someone who said there were “very fine people” on both sides at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, which included, you know, white supremacists and was unharmed by his words. He considers Noem too toxic to be associated with right now. For someone as seemingly bullet-proof as Trump, he shouldn’t be afraid of Noem riding, um, shotgun, but that tells you everything you need to know about the fallout from this.

As Noem’s office spins against the backlash in a predictable and hollow fashion (by drawing attention to the fact that it was 20 years ago, as if that matters, by attempting to cast her as being responsible and stoic despite her violent, unnecessary and seemingly arbitrary choices), we don’t know where things will land with her but some are predicting that her national political prospects are over. This is a good thing. Sadistic people with questionable judgment should not hold political office and wield the kind of power to harm, slander and kill others, whether we are talking about an untrained puppy, a goat or vulnerable populations, such as indigenous South Dakotans and pregnant people.

Anyone who knows Noem’s record of governance shouldn’t be surprised that she is the type of person who would kill a dog and brag about it. Cruelty for its own sake is not only a hallmark of Noem’s, who has said she believes 10-year-olds and adolescents who are pregnant as the result of rape or incest should also be barred from abortion, it is inseparable from the Republican party writ large.

This is not meant to dismiss or downplay cruelty to other species. I care enough about kindness that I have dedicated my life to promoting compassionate living through veganism. I would love, however, to have our electorate care as much about equality, justice and kindness that someone like Kristi Noem or Donald Trump cannot get past the immediate backlash they encounter for their proud positions on racism (“woke-ism” is the problem, not racism), reproductive autonomy (defend the “unborn,” not their “vessels”), violence against women (locker room talk) and so on as well as cruelty to animals. None of it is okay. All deserve protection.

Maybe a dog named Cricket is going to help us to notice the crickets we hear when other cruelties are boasted about, dismissed and enacted, and I hope we will act accordingly

That is all I can hope for at this point. No one deserves cruel treatment to go unnoticed.

Marla Rose is cofounder of VeganStreet.com.