Jeff Dean/AP
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks prior to remarks from Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio.
CNN  — 

South Dakota GOP Sen. Mike Rounds said Gov. Kristi Noem’s revelation in her book that she shot a dog on her family farm could hurt her with voters if former President Donald Trump chooses her as his running mate.

“I don’t see how it helps,” Rounds said.

“I’ve had dogs,” he said. “I just think that when a family decides to put down dogs, it’s a very personal and private decision to be made. Not something to be made lightly. It should be very personal and private.”

Noem, a South Dakota Republican, did not keep it private, detailing the shooting of the 14-month-old dog in her book as she described the gritty life she navigates in rural America.

According to an excerpt, which was obtained by the Guardian, Noem killed her dog Cricket because the dog was “untrainable,” “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with” and “less than worthless … as a hunting dog.”

“I hated that dog,” Noem writes, according to the Guardian.

Asked by CNN if the story about shooting her dog will hurt her with voters if Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, picks her as his running mate, Rounds said yes.

“I don’t think anyone has taken a poll on it, but I can tell you, as a person who has had dogs in the past, my kids have got dogs and so forth. It is an item of discussion. I don’t see how it helps,” he said. “These dogs become a member of a family, you know. People identify with that.”

Noem tied for first choice in a February poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February in which attendees were asked who they’d like to see Trump pick as his running mate. Noem and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy each received 15% of votes in the straw poll.

Rounds, asked whether Noem should have put the story in her book, responded: “I’ve never written a book or had a desire to write a book. So, I can’t talk to the reason for doing it.”

Noem’s other fellow South Dakotans in Congress were less sure about the negative ramifications the controversial story may have on public opinion.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune largely declined to comment, saying, “I’ve seen the reporting on it. She’s offered her responses to the questions that have been asked. So I just don’t really have any observations on it.”

As for if it could hurt her chances of being picked to be Trump’s choice for vice president, he said, “I don’t know the answer to any of that.”

“I think that who Trump picks is going to be largely up to him. Sounds like she has at least been in the running and we’ll see what he decides to do,” Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said.

Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson defended his home state’s governor.

“Life is a little different in rural America,” he said.

“I will tell you, there are lots of people in rural America, who if an animal’s got to be put down, they would do that themselves. I know most people would go to the vet, but I would tell you that Kristi Noem was not the first or the one thousandth, you know, farmer or rancher that’s put down an animal themselves,” he said.

Noem took a similar stance in a statement on X Friday, saying, “We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm. Sadly, we just had to put down 3 horses a few weeks ago that had been in our family for 25 years.”

She also included a link to order her forthcoming book “No Going Back,” which she said will have “more real, honest, and politically INcorrect stories that’ll have the media gasping.”

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who got in trouble when he was running for president in 2012 for having put his dog on the top of the car during a cross country trip, reacted to the Noem news by taking a shot at Trump, of whom he is a chief critic.

“I didn’t eat my dog and I didn’t shoot my dog. I loved my dog, and my dog loved me. And I guess it kind of makes it a little difficult for President Trump to find someone to be his VP, so, he’ll have to look for someone smarter than him, a better speaker than him, and - like him - does not get burdened with principles,” Romney told reporters in the Capitol, also seemingly taking a shot at his former rival Barack Obama — who in his book “Dreams From My Father,” published in 1995, recalled being fed dog meat as a boy in Indonesia.

Noem, in the book excerpts, also details shooting a goat, which she describes as “nasty and mean” and having a “disgusting, musky, rancid” smell. The goat made a habit of chasing and knocking down her kids, she says.

“I guess if I were a better politician I wouldn’t tell the story here,” Noem adds, according to the Guardian.

CNN’s Kit Maher, Jack Forrest, Morgan Rimmer and Manu Raju contributed to this report.