Teacher accused of feeding puppy to snapping turtle in front of students

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PRESTON, Idaho - A school district in Idaho is investigating an incident that took place last week in which a science teacher allegedly fed a live puppy to one of his reptiles in front of students.

Local animal activist Jill Parrish is the one who filed the police report.

"What I have learned in the last four days is disgusting," Parrish told KSTU. "It is sick."

Parrish said a teacher at Preston Junior High told her after school last week Robert Crosland fed a live puppy, who was reportedly sick, to one of his reptiles. He has a snake and a snapping turtle. Apparently, it all happened in front of students.

"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 is a 7th-grade student at Preston Junior High.

"I've only heard him feed like mice or birds to his animals," Hull said. "I feel a little bit better that it was a puppy that was going to die, not just a healthy puppy."

It's a sentiment echoed by parents Annette Salvesen and Julie Johnson.

"If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway, Cros[land] is very much circle of life," Salveson said.

"He’s the best science teacher Preston Junior High has," Johnson said.

Franklin County Sheriff David Fryar said the department is looking into it.

"We’re investigating the facts and turning it over to the prosecutor," Fryar said. "He’s the one who will determine if the law has been broken."

Preston School District Superintendent Mark Gee said Crossland is still employed at Preston Junior High and, while the incident is under investigation, he’s not been placed on administrative leave.

Even if the puppy was going to die, Parrish doesn't think this was the way to do it.

"There’s a lot of humane things you can do," she said. "Feeding a live animal to a reptile is not humane, and it's not okay."

However, other parents said it's just a hands-on way to teach the circle of life.

"If you’re not fine with it, leave the room," Salvesen said.

Idaho's Preston School District sent KSTU this statement:

"On March 7, 2018, Preston School District was made aware of a regrettable circumstance involving some of the biological specimens at Preston Jr. High. The event occurred well after students had been dismissed and was not a part of any school directed program. We emphasize that at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised.

District administration was made aware of the issue soon after it occurred, and immediately began the process of investigation and taking steps to ensure that this type of action could not be repeated. A part of any investigation includes determining the best course of action once the facts of the matter have been ascertained. This is not a situation that is easy nor do we feel it is a measure that can be taken lightly. As such, we ask for patience while appropriate measures are determined and carried out.

Additional details cannot be shared at this time, as the local law enforcement agency is in the process of gathering information.

While the district certainly does not condone individual actions that may violate district policy or reasonable expectations of behavior, we hope that any errors in judgement made by a teacher in this instance will not cause us to forget the years of care, effort and passion the teacher has given to students in Preston School District."

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