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School turtle ‘that was fed a live puppy by a US biology teacher’ is euthanised

Accounts differ as to whether children were present when the ‘sick, deformed’ puppy was devoured by the turtle

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 4:21am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 6:21pm

An Idaho junior school has become the nexus of a bizarre and horrifying animal rights storm after a biology teacher reportedly fed a live puppy to the school turtle – which has now been euthanised.

Preston Junior High School biology teacher Robert Crosland was identified on Tuesday by East Idaho News as the man who fed a sick puppy to the turtle, which was put down by local authorities on Thursday.

And now the school has been hit with threats from people furious about the entire debacle, local police have said.

The controversy emerged this week after two parents accused Crosland – who has not been identified by police or the school authority – of the gruesome act. 

Crosland was alleged by some parents and students to have fed the “deformed” dog to the turtle in front of pupils – although the school said it occurred “well after students were dismissed”.

Speaking to East Idaho News and Fox 13, current and former pupils at the school said that Crosland had previously fed guinea pigs and mice to the animals – including the turtle and snakes – in his classroom. 

“He is a cool teacher who really brought science to life,” an unnamed student told the News. “I loved his class because he had turtles and snakes and other cool things.”

But the puppy was a step too far for some, such as local animal activist Jill Parrish, who filed the police report.

“What I have learned in the last four days is disgusting. It is sick. It is sick,” she told Fox 13.

Things became even more complicated on Thursday when police raided the classroom to seize the turtle and euthanise it.

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The Idaho State Department of Agriculture in a statement Friday says snapping turtles are an invasive species in Idaho requiring a permit, and so it had to be put down. A prosecutor is investigating.

That tragic turn of events is likely to galvanise some unknown figures who have threatened the school – prompting a police response. 

Law enforcement officials said that “vague threats” connected to the alleged puppy-eating incident have been received by the school, and that police were posted outside the town’s schools this week.

There was no school Friday but Preston Police Chief Mike Peterson said officers may return Monday. 

However, some parents – such as Annette Salvesen and Julie Johnson – have defended Crosland.

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“If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway, Cros[land] is very much circle of life,” Salveson told Fox 13.

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

In a statement on Tuesday, school district Superintendent Marc Gee said his administration became aware of “a regrettable circumstance involving some of the biological specimens” last week.

“The event occurred well after students had been dismissed and was not a part of any school-directed programme,” he said.

“We emphasise that at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised.”

Crosland is still working at the school while an internal investigation is being conducted, Gee said.