My Michigan friend Bethann is among the smartest persons I’ve ever met. She no doubt would be among the smartest persons you’d ever meet because she belongs to Mensa, an organization where the price of admission is ranking in the 98th percentile or higher on approved intelligence tests. Unlike lots of brilliant people I’ve met over the years whose smarts are inversely related to their common sense, Bethann is imbued with infinite wisdom, which is why she’s my go-to person for advice on life’s mundane and critical matters, ranging from the best washing machines to medical treatments.

It was Bethann who gave me the support and encouragement I needed to adopt Ben Jr., the English golden retriever who treats me as his bitch. Ben has done a lot to frustrate and anger me over the years, but even when we went hiking and he found some freshly dispensed human excrement to roll in, never once did I have the thought or urge to take out a gun and shoot him. Bethann, who has raised numerous dogs of various sizes and breeds, maintains that the most critical requirement of canine care is to love them.

Some two years ago, I shared with Bethann that I found Kristi Noem attractive and that I liked the feisty defiance of South Dakota’s governor. My comment didn’t go over well with my Michigan bestie.

“What is wrong with you?” I recall Bethann saying something to that effect. “Noem is a terrible person who I imagine sleeps with a gun in her bed and wouldn’t have any qualms about using it.”

Bethann wasn’t quite done.

“You need to do something about your taste in women,” she added.

As invariably is the case, Bethann’s assessment of Noem was spot on. The governor is getting roasted across the full range of the political spectrum for her disclosure that she shot a 14-month-old wirehair pointer named Cricket whose hunting skills Noem found lacking and a danger to chickens. Noem also describes killing – with two shotgun blasts – an unnamed, un-castrated male goat, which she deemed too smelly and unruly.

“I hated that dog,” Noem reportedly writes, adding that Cricket was simply “untrainable” and “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with.”

Noem makes her cold-blooded canine murder admission in her forthcoming book, No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward, which will be published next month.

One of Noem’s likely political enemies deftly leaked a copy of the book to the far-left Guardian, which quite rightly zeroed in on the passage of the otherwise seemingly unremarkable book. A shoutout to the Guardian editor who cleverly chose a photo of Noem addressing an NRA leadership forum last year.

It’s a safe bet that Noem isn’t a card-carrying Mensa member. Since the Guardian posted its exclusive, Noem has argued that she was legally obliged to kill Cricket because the puppy killed a neighbor’s chickens. She’s also boasted that her family recently put down three horses.

Noem tried to spin her gangster-style executions as an example of how she doesn’t “shy away from tough challenges.”

“Whether running the ranch or in politics, I have never passed on my responsibilities to anyone else to handle,” Noem posted on X. “Even if it’s hard and painful. I followed the law and was being a responsible parent, dog owner, and neighbor.”

According to the Guardian, South Dakota law suggests Noem may have committed a class two misdemeanor by allowing Cricket to kill the chickens – and also may have contravened the law by killing the dog on her own property, after the attack on the chickens.

I’m heartened that Noem is universally reviled and has fostered a rare unity among disparate Americans, ranging from the multimillionaire left wing entertainer Stephen Colbert to John Nolte, Breitbart’s media columnist who is proud of his blue-collar Wisconsin roots and lives somewhere in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains. Several posters on social media likened Noem as Cruella de Vil, the villain from the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians.

Many have questioned why Noem voluntarily disclosed her killing of a puppy and other animals. A possible reason is even more alarming.

South Dakota Democratic Senate Minority Leader Reynold Nesiba is quoted in this AP story as saying he viewed Noem’s disclosure more calculated than stupid. Nesiba said the story has circulated for years among lawmakers that Noem killed a dog in a “fit of anger” and that there were witnesses. Nesiba speculated that it was coming out now because Noem is being vetted as a candidate for vice president.

I’m impressed with Paws Animal Rescue, a shelter based in South Dakota’s capital city of Pierre, which judiciously avoided attacking Noem directly, likely because it receives public funding and is overseen by state regulators. But in a Facebook posting the shelter addressed Noem’s claim that her dog Cricket was untrainable.

“We haven’t met one (untrainable dog) yet,” the shelter said. “In all our years in animal rescue and the thousands of animals that have come through our door, we have yet to meet a dog that was so untrainable it deserved to be shot to death.”

Only someone who was educated at Columbia, Harvard, or some other Ivy or Big Ten school might readily buy Noem’s claim that shooting her dog was necessary, but the callousness with which she disclosed it, and her lack of remorse is telling.

Veterinarians must routinely put down dogs that are infirm and suffering, but it takes a toll on them. Dr. Julie Buzby, a veterinarian from Beaufort, South Carolina, recently told the New York Post that having to euthanize dogs are among the reasons that veterinarians are twice as likely to commit suicide than any other medical professional and that female veterinarians are three times more likely to kill themselves than the general public.

Around 70% of American vets are women, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

I’m tearing up now just talking about that because for many of us who’s been in the profession long enough, we saw those pets as puppies and kittens and then we’re there for their euthanasia visit … they are family members for us too,” Buzby said.

I know I’m dreaming, but I’d welcome harnessing the widespread outrage about Noem’s shooting into a designated national Cricket Dog Protection Day calling attention to the violence and abuse that U.S. canines are increasingly subjected to and demanding better protections from the Kristi Noems in America who should be denied the privilege and honor of owning a dog.

The health and well-being of dogs are under growing threat because private equity firms are increasingly buying up veterinary practices. This Atlantic article by veteran personal finance writer Helaine Olen explains how private equity ownership leads to soaring and often unnecessary vet costs. Unfortunately, Olen overlooks that PE firms also have their grubby tentacles in dog food and other ancillary businesses that’s making dog ownership so costly that families are forced to give up their beloved pets because they don’t have the funds to take care of them.

I caution loving dog owners to avoid veterinary practices controlled by private equity because however well meaning, PE controlled vets are under constant duress to order tests and treatments and meet revenue targets. I’m fortunate to have an independent vet who is so swamped providing legitimate treatments, he has no time or incentive to recommend unnecessary procedures.

Noem was supposedly a front runner to become Donald Trump’s running mate, but the public’s revulsion about her shooting a puppy in cold blood has possibly derailed Noem getting the nod. Trump would be wise to consult with my friend Bethann before selecting another running mate, but unfortunately, I’m not certain she’d take his call.

Bethann is a kind and loving person, who doesn’t despise many people. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is one of them.

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