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(NEW YORK POST) – A science teacher at a junior high school in Idaho was accused of feeding a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students after school, according to reports.
It was not immediately clear if the little pooch was dead or alive when Robert Crosland, a longtime teacher at Preston Junior High School, allegedly fed it to the turtle after class on Wednesday, according to East Idaho News.
“The event occurred well after students had been dismissed and was not part of any school-directed program,” Preston School District Superintendent Marc Gee said in a statement. “We emphasize that at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised.”
As of early Tuesday, Crosland still appeared in the school’s online directory. He was not cited, criminally charged or placed on leave as of late Monday, Gee told East Idaho News.
“A part of any investigation includes determining the best course of action once the facts of the matter have been ascertained,” Gee said. “This is not a situation that is easy, nor do we feel it is a measure that can be taken lightly.”
Franklin County Sheriff Dave Fryar told the Idaho Statesman that he forwarded a report of the incident to the county prosecutor.
“The prosecutor said, ‘Until he decides, he considers it an open book,’” Fryar said. “He doesn’t want us to do anything to hamper the investigation.”
Several current and former students said Crosland is a well-liked teacher at the school who kept exotic animals like snakes and other reptiles in tanks in his classroom. Three former students who asked not to be identified said they remember Crosland feeding guinea pigs to snakes and snapping turtles during in-class demonstrations.
“He is a cool teacher who really brought science to life,” one former student told East Idaho News. “I loved his class because he had turtles and snakes and other cool things.”
The district now wants to make sure “this type of action could not be repeated,” but Gee asked parents and other critics to remember the “care, effort and passion” Crosland has demonstrated in the classroom for years. In a statement, Gee characterized the alleged feeding as a “regrettable circumstance” involving animals at the school.
But an animal activist who filed a police report in connection with the alleged feeding was not sympathetic, calling Crosland’s actions “disgusting” and offensive.
“It is sick,” Jill Parrish told KSTU. “It is sick.”
Parrish said a teacher told her last week that Crosland fed the puppy, which was believed to be disfigured, to one of his reptiles in class: a snake and a snapping turtle.
“Allowing children to watch an innocent baby puppy scream because it is being fed to an animal … that is violence,” Parrish said. “That is not okay.”
Este Hull, a seventh-grader at the school, said she has only known Crosland to feed his animals mice or birds.
“I feel a little better that it was a puppy that was going to die, not just a healthy puppy,” Hull said.
Another parent of a student at the school echoed Hull’s sentiment.
“If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway, [Crosland] is very much circle of life,” parent Annette Salvesen told the station.
That explanation didn’t satisfy Parrish, however.
“There’s a lot of humane things you can do,” Parrish told KSTU. “Feeding a live animal to a reptile is not humane and it’s not okay.”