Outrage Grows (or Not) Over Idaho Teacher Feeding Puppy to Snapping Turtle

As some students at Preston Junior High in Idaho gathered in his classroom after school on March 7, science teacher Robert Crosland fed a sickly puppy to a snapping turtle.

Extremely disturbing, right? So was the reaction of some parents and students. “If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway, Cros[land] is very much circle of life,” Annette Salvesen, one of the parents, told KSTU. “If you’re not fine with it, leave the room.”

Seventh-grader Este Hull told a reporter, “I’ve only heard him feed like mice or birds to his animals…I feel a little bit better that it was a puppy that was going to die, not just a healthy puppy.”

Parents and students who contacted East Idaho News in defense of Crosland said he was a popular teacher who kept exotic snakes and other animals in classroom tanks. Students said he would feed guinea pigs to the animals during classroom demonstrations.

Even Marc Gee, the superintendent of the Preston School District, seemed to brush off the incident. After all, he said in a March 9 news release, the feeding happened after school and “at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised.”

But what about the safety of that poor puppy?

Although news reports say it’s unclear whether the puppy was dead when it was fed to the turtle, Crosland may have drowned the puppy first, at least according to a comment quoting eyewitnesses that was posted on the Idaho Humane Society’s Facebook page.

“He explained to the three students that were in the class that drowning is one of the most humane ways for something to pass away,” wrote Kim Christensen Tracy, who supports Crosland.

Wait, what? It’s worth noting here that Idaho has the dubious distinction of consistently being in the bottom 10 of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings reports, so maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that a science teacher allegedly teaches that forced drowning is somehow preferable to humane euthanization by a licensed veterinarian.

Fortunately, thank goodness, those who have no problem with what Crosland did are in the minority. Thousands of people from around the world have expressed their outrage on social media. The Preston School District was flooded with phone calls and emails after his despicable act made global news headlines.

What’s really troubling is that this incident probably would have gotten little attention if local animal activist Jill Parrish hadn’t filed a police report when she found out about it from another teacher at the school.

“There’s a lot of humane things you can do. Feeding a live animal to a reptile is not humane and it’s not okay,” Parrish, who’s one of Crosland’s former students, told KSTU.

After filing the report, Parrish said she’s become the town pariah. “I’ve been threatened,” she told the Idaho Statesman. “This is a cut-and-dried case of animal cruelty. But they’re saying, ‘The teacher is a good teacher.’ Everybody loves him.”

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and the Preston School District are currently investigating the incident. Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, executive director of the Idaho Humane Society, said feeding a live puppy to a turtle is in violation of the state’s animal cruelty laws. “There’s nothing under state law that would exempt that action from cruelty prosecution,” he told the Idaho Stateman.

The Idaho Humane Society has called for a prompt and thorough investigation of the incident. “Our school systems should be places where the proper care and treatment of domestic animals is reinforced by instruction, not where children are inured to pain and suffering,” it said in a statement March 14.

Meanwhile, the very popular Mr. Crosland has not been cited and continues to teach at the school.

Shouldn’t he be aware that in the wild, snapping turtles eat fish, frogs and occasionally other turtles – but never puppies. What kind of lesson could he possibly be teaching?

“I don’t understand why he thought this was something educational, especially in front of students,” said snapping turtle expert Corbin Maxey. “I just don’t understand.”

Nor do tens of thousands of other people who want Crosland to lose his job and be charged with animal cruelty.

Take Action

Feeding a puppy to a turtle – and insinuating to students the puppy was worthless because it wasn’t healthy – was unnecessary and cruel. Please join more than 50,000 people who have signed this Care2 petition urging the superintendent of the Preston School District to fire Crosland for this heinous act.

Photo credit: USFWS


Marie W
Marie W6 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta W9 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Cindy S
Cindy Smith9 months ago

he should be fed to sharks

Patty L
Patty Langford10 months ago


Michelle Spradley
Michelle Spradley11 months ago

To put a slightly different light on this horrible event, am I wrong, I thought turtles were vegetarian? If so, then not only is he guilty of animal cruelty with regards to the poor sick puppy, but also in regards to the turtle itself. No one should think that feeding a live puppy, even a sick one, to any other animal is normal or in any way okay. If your child were sickly would you think it okay to feed it to some other animal.

Danuta W
Danuta W11 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Renata B
Renata B12 months ago

A very disturbing sign of something that has gone badly wrong in a society/culture. It's breeding monsters. There is too much going on, like police shooting dogs for barking. Something is rotten at the core. Good people need to make a drastic effort to change the situation. Very, very disturbing: a teacher! Like the vet who shot an arrow through the neck of a cat and then she boasted about it. And Trump and his administration in power, blessing trophy hunting and stripping all protection from wild life and the environment. It's all connected, that at least is clear.

Deborah W
Deborah W12 months ago

AS IF THE PUPPY WASN'T SICK ENOUGH, its finish was orchestrated by a compassionless human being, teaching kids, no less. (Bet he was careful not to get his fingers too close to the turtles' jaws.) One has to wonder what else he's curious about. His type usually begins with animals. At the very least he should be flagged and monitored going forward. Wouldn't want any kids of mine in such a learning curve. How about you?

Glennis W
Glennis Whitney12 months ago

Deplorable and despicable Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis Whitney12 months ago

Cruel BASTARD Thank you for caring and sharing