Teacher Who Fed Puppy to Snapping Turtle Charged with Animal Cruelty

When the news spread in March that Idaho junior high school teacher Robert Crosland allegedly fed a puppy to a snapping turtle after school as students watched, people around the world were, of course, horrified.

Yet almost as disturbing as this horrifying incident was the reaction of many of Crosland’s students and their parents, who thought it was no big deal and not cruel at all.

“If anyone has a right to be upset, it is me,” Farahlyn Hansen, the mother of two students at Preston Junior High School who witnessed the killing of the puppy, told EastIdahoNews.com. “I am not upset. I felt like it was the more humane thing for Robert to do than to just leave it (the puppy) to die. … The puppy was dying.”

Another parent, Annette Salvesen, agreed. “If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway, Cros[land] is very much circle of life,” she said.

How could Hansen, Salvesen and others with reactions similar to theirs not be aware that a veterinarian could have euthanized that poor puppy much more quickly and humanely? A quick Google search shows there is at least one animal hospital just a couple of miles from the school.

And what kind of “circle of life” lesson was Crosland teaching those students? Snapping turtles eat fish, frogs and occasionally other turtles – but not puppies. The turtle also lost its life a short time later. It was seized and euthanized by Idaho State Department of Agriculture officials, because snapping turtles are an invasive species in the state, and Crosland did not have a permit to keep it.

Despite what Crosland did, nearly 4,000 people signed a petition supporting him. On the other hand, nearly 194,000 people from around the world have signed a Care2 petition urging him to be charged with animal cruelty and fired.

Fortunately, the Idaho attorney general’s office agreed with the Care2 petition signers and, after a three-month investigation, charged Crosland with animal cruelty. Unfortunately, because it’s the teacher’s first offense, under Idaho law the charge is only a misdemeanor. If convicted, Crosland is facing up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Although this misdemeanor charge may seem like an insufficient slap on Crosland’s wrist, at least it’s more than what a Florida high school teacher got for having his students drown two raccoons and an opossum.

The Florida state attorney’s office decided that the teacher, Dewie Brewton, “did not intend to torture or torment those nuisance animals” – even though he had the students drown the caged raccoons in a trashcan filled with water, spraying their faces with water when they tried to come up for air. Brewton was not charged with any counts of animal cruelty.

However, when the county public schools superintendent, Heidi Maier, found out about the drownings, she said she would fire Brewton. He resigned before she could do so.

What about Crosland’s employment status? As international outrage began to grow over what he called a “regrettable circumstance,” Preston School District Superintendent Marc Gee said in a March 9 news release that district administrators were taking steps “to ensure that this this type of action could not be repeated.”

None of those steps apparently involved firing or even suspending Crosland.

School is now out for the summer in Preston. Despite the news of the animal cruelty charge against Crosland, school district officials have not commented on whether he’ll still have his job when classes resume.

Take Action

If Gee is sincere about ensuring the action Crosland took cannot be repeated, the best way to do this would be to let Crosland go — and his teaching license should be revoked as well. Please join 194,000 people who have signed the petition urging the superintendent to fire Crosland.

If there’s an issue you care about in your community or the world, you can start your own Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Care2′s community of activists will join you in your cause and help you make a difference.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Jacqueline GLYDE
Jacqueline GLYDE24 days ago

The parents that agree with him should be locked up in the same cell,ON BREAD & WATER!!
This makes me so mad.

Jane H
Jane Howard2 months ago

Fire the animal ABUSER.

Vincent T
Vincent T2 months ago


Marty Price
Marty Price2 months ago

Can't believe somebody hasn't beat the shit out of this demented coward.

Lolli M
Olga M2 months ago

when you read the title is difficult to believe that this is something that has happened, but that is the SICK reality of a SICK EVIL persons head.

Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Andersen2 months ago

I can't believe he wasn't hauled off in irons considering! What a thing to teach children, how to drown animals and kill others by feeding then to each other! That man is seriously ill!

Vanessa Merifield
Vanessa M2 months ago

Great news tho not much of a deterrant

Kathleen E
Kathleen E2 months ago

I would lock him up. I wouldn't want him near a child of mine!

Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride2 months ago

Cannot believe yet another teacher showing animal cruelty in front of students. He should be fired & charged with animal abuse.

Michele B
Michele B2 months ago

these are DEFINITELY NOT the values and ethics we should be teaching or even SHOWING our children