A teacher at Preston Junior High School in Idaho came under fire after he was accused of feeding a live puppy to a reptile in March.
Robert Crosland, a science teacher at the school, was accused after a local animal activist filed a police report alleging the incident.
Idaho prosecutors charged the teacher with misdemeanor animal cruelty in May.
Several members of the community are standing up to support the teacher, while online commentators are expressing outrage at the reports.
Heavy spoke with former students of Crosland who are fiercely defending the teacher. In addition, the animal activist, Jill Parrish, spoke out to Heavy defending why she filed the report, adding that people are now threatening herself and her family.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Is Accused of Feeding a Live’Screaming’ Puppy to a Snapping Turtle, Which was Later Euthanized
Parrish told Heavy that she filed a report accusing Crosland of feeding a live puppy to a snapping turtle last week.
The woman went on to say that her life and the safety of her family is now being threatened.
“I’m not doing well at all,” Parrish told Heavy through tears. “Yesterday things got really ugly…and they’ve really, really, really gotten ugly since yesterday. I had to pull my daughter of school yesterday and I’m packing up my stuff to get out of town because these people are after my blood. And I didn’t do anything. They’ve started a smear campaign, people who I thought were my friends. They have taken screenshots and are accusing me of being a drug dealer, and this and that. All I did was report this because it was not right. I’m not the one who did this. Why are they going after me?”
Parrish, who was not at the school at the time of the incident, said she was informed her last week that Mr. Crosland fed the live, crying and sickly puppy to the reptile in front of students.
Parrish continued to tell Heavy:
What this man did is not okay…I know that the puppy was alive. It was screaming, people heard it screaming as it was fed to the snapping turtle! Everybody in the town is blaming me, like I’m the one who did this. I called PETA. No, by the time I talked to PETA they had already had over 100 phone calls of this being turned in. I did not do that. I also did not feed a frickin puppy to a god**mn snapping turtle. Crosland is a beloved teacher, and people are out saying ‘this is the circle of life and whatnot.’ What he did was wrong. That dog came from someone in this community that was sent over there to feed to that turtle.
Mr. Crosland gives extra credit to kids to bring animals to the classroom to feed those animals. This is not something that is debated, this is something that this community knows about and they condone it. They think that it’s ok to feed sick, dying puppies to snapping turtles because they were going to die anyway. No, you don’t do that. The dog tried to swim away from that turtle, he tried to get away for almost an entire minute. Don’t tell me that dog was too sick when it tried to swim away. If he was sick and deformed, that dog would’ve sunk to the bottom of that tank. But everyone in this town is telling me ‘you have no idea.’ There is no question that was a live puppy, believe me. What they have done has destroyed my life because nobody is willing to say ‘this is what happened.’
As an activist, I don’t need to be in that room to know what happened. I do need a copy of the police report from the people who were in that room, because it has to be in there.
And the ones pissing me off the most is the school, they’re calling that poor puppy a biological specimen.
The snapping turtle in the incident was later euthanized by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture due to it being an invasive species without a permit, according to the Idaho Statesmen.
“Snapping turtles are highly-adaptable, top-tier predators in their habitat,” the department wrote in a Friday news release. “The public is urged to avoid propagating invasive species or from bringing them in to Idaho from other states and countries. A permit application can be reviewed and a number of factors are taken into consideration before a permit may be issued. Not all situations are eligible for a permit.”
2. A Woman Said Her Brothers Were 2 of 3 Students in the Classroom & Adamantly Denies the Accusations
A woman who identified herself as the sister of two boys who witnessed Crosland feeding the puppy to a snapping turtle is vehemently denying the puppy was alive when it was fed to the animal. Instead, she stated that the pup was peacefully and humanely drowned before the teacher fed it to the reptile. Jacee Hammons posted the following to Facebook:
I have a little bit to say about the puppy being fed to the snapping turtle. First of all, there were only three students in the classroom and two of them were in high school. Only one of them was a junior high student. And out of those three students, two of them were my brothers. None of the kids need counseling, and Crosland didn’t feed the turtle in front of a whole class. Nor did they have a student who was frantically running to the principal trying to adopt the puppy.
It was also 45 minutes after school had been officially dismissed for the day. My brothers are doing fine and are honestly feeling terrible about how this has been affecting Crosland. My brothers also feel that Crosland did the right thing in seeing the puppy’s state of life. Before Crosland fed the puppy to the turtle, the puppy drowned in the water. 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.
You take a breath, and then you pass out after inhaling water and you don’t feel the actual pain of dying. If he had just let the puppy die because it was starving it would have been more more painful for the dying pup, and it would have taken a lot longer for the puppy to die.
Honestly, people wouldn’t be so aggravated as they are if it was a rat or some other unattractive creature. People think that his puppy was healthy and happy, but it was dying and starving. I feel Crosland did the right thing with the puppy, and he has my full support.
A former student of Crosland’s, Taylon Bosworth, described the man as an animal lover who would never intentionally harm a living being.
“Crosland loves animals….if you ever saw his classroom you’d know what I mean,” Bosworth told Heavy. “I guarantee he didn’t just put the puppy in the water while it was conscious and let it get ripped apart while it was awake and alive.”
3. He Was Described as ‘One of the Best & Greatest Teachers’
Many who say they personally know Crosland are coming to the teacher’s defense.
“He taught seven of our eight children and they all love him dearly and learned so much from him,” Kathy Jepsen posted to Facebook. “I believe in free speech and free press but check the facts out first and check the source also.”
Former student Austin Mena said Crosland was one of the best teachers in the community, and he advises people to look at “the whole story.”
“I just wish people could stop being biased,” Mena told Heavy. “And stop giving their opinion unless they known for a fact they have the whole story.”
Another student, Damien Devitt, also defended Crosland, describing the teacher as a “hometown hero.” Devitt told Heavy:
Wednesday after school Mr. Crossland fed a deformed, sick, and DEAD puppy to his snapping turtle. Beforehand he tried to get the dog healthy again but it wouldn’t eat (as most dying animals don’t).
He put the dog down himself and instead of letting it rot in the ground, he fed it to his other animals to continue the circle of life. Crossland is a hometown hero, he has helped nearly everyone in the community with something. He took me and other students out after school one day to help us with our plant collection that was a part of his curriculum. He helps kids get their Eagle Scouts and does odd jobs to make ends meet. The man never taught from a textbook and he loves his job.
He appreciates and understands nature, I have never once seen him be cruel to any animal or human he’s came into contact with. The attacks on him are unwarranted and disgusting. The media and people doing this attacking know nothing about the situation nor the kind of person and amazing example that he is to everyone in our community.
4. He is Facing an Animal Cruelty Charge
According to CBS News, Crosland was charged in May with misdemeanor animal cruelty.
If convicted of the alleged crime, Crosland could be ordered to spend six months in jail and pay a fine of up to $5,000.
5. Police Were Deployed to the School, Though Authorities Say They Received ‘No Credible Threats’
On March 15, Franklin County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release that the district had received “no credible threats,” though officers were still sent to the school.
“We want to ensure the community that we have received no credible threats,” the release stated. “We do have a high presence of Preston Police Officers and Franklin County Deputies at the schools to help provide a safe and normal learning environment.”
However, some are apprehensive regarding the statement after receiving a notice that they defined as stating otherwise.
Preston School District Superintendent Marc Gee sent the a notification to parents through the districts alert system, which stated:
Last night, a Facebook post was created encouraging violence against Preston School District. The threat was reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation last night by local law enforcement. Preston City Police Chief Peterson and Franklin County Sheriff Fryar have met with district administrators and have determined that the threat warrants continued police presence as a precaution, but that it does not pose a credible threat to the safety of our students.
Currently there are multiple uniformed officers located at all Preston School District Schools. They will remain in place throughout the school day.
We will continue holding classes on the normal schedule for the remainder of the day today. As is always the case, parents are welcome to come and release their students if they feel that is best.
“If you haven’t received no credible threats then why is the FBI involved now?,” April Chaney Newsom stated in response to the sheriff’s message on Facebook. “Thank you for protecting our schools! I have many loved ones in the Preston school district.”
“I think they should make an announcement within the schools,” Kyley Buttars stated. “I am an aide at the elementary and kids are talking all over the school that there is going to be a school shooting and that’s why they are here. It’s so sad they think that. Thank you for your protection but please announce your intent to the kids so they don’t worry or start rumors to that degree.”