How to Know When a Good Dog Has Gone Bad

Since late last month, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota has been the subject of fierce bipartisan attacks for her decision to shoot and kill her family dog, a 14-month-old German wirehaired pointer named Cricket. Ms. Noem has repeatedly defended her actions, which are detailed in her forthcoming memoir, in which she says the dog was “aggressive,” “untrainable” and “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with.”

On Sunday, she suggested that President Biden should have considered killing his own dog, Commander, a German shepherd who was banished from the White House last year after repeatedly biting Secret Service officers.

“Joe Biden’s dog has attacked 24 Secret Service people,” Ms. Noem, a Republican, said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “So how many people is enough people to be attacked and dangerously hurt before you make a decision on a dog?”

Experts said that there were some circumstances in which dogs are so aggressive that they should be euthanized. But euthanasia should be an option of last resort, they said, used only when a dog poses a serious danger and other potential solutions have been ruled out. In the cases of both Cricket and Commander, there were plenty of reasonable, nonlethal approaches available.

“We have lots of tools in our tool belt — medication, lots of different behavioral interventions as well — before you get to the step where you’re, like, I can’t handle this dog,” said Erica Feuerbacher, an expert on dog behavior and learning at Virginia Tech. “That’s what I’d want, is that they’d really value their dog’s life and give their dog its best chance of having a full, long life.”

The Guardian first reported on the excerpts from Ms. Noem’s memoir, which is set to be released on Tuesday. In it, she reportedly blames Cricket for ruining a pheasant hunt, killing another family’s chickens and biting, or trying to bite, her.

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