A teacher at Preston Junior High School in Idaho came under fire after he was accused of feeding a live puppy to a reptile.
Robert Crosland, a science teacher at the school, was accused after a local animal activist, Jill Parrish, filed a police report regarding the alleged incident, according to Fox 13.
Several members of the community are standing up to support the teacher, while online commentators are expressing outrage at the reports.
Heavy spoke with members of the community and former students of Crosland who are fiercely defending the teacher.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Is Accused of Feeding a Live’Screaming’ Puppy to a Snapping Turtle
A local animal activist to Preston, Jill Parrish, reportedly filed a report accusing Crosland of feeding a live puppy to a snapping turtle last week, according to Fox 13.
Parrish, who was not at the school at the time of the incident, alleges that a teacher from the school informed her last week that Mr. Crosland fed the live, crying and sickly puppy to the reptile in front of students.
“What I have learned in the last four days is disgusting. It is sick. It is sick,” said Parrish, according to Fox 13. “Allowing children to watch an innocent baby puppy scream because it is being fed to an animal. That is violence. That is not okay,” says Parrish.
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 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 a “hometown hero.” Devitt told Heavy:
Wednesday after school Mr. Crossland fed a deformed, sick, and DEAD puppy to his snapping turtle. Before hand 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. Despite a Contrary Report, Police Say the Incident is ‘Under Investigation’
Despite a news station reporting deputies supporting the theory of Crosland feeding the animal while it was alive to a reptile, officials say the incident is still under investigation.
“Deputies say a science teacher, Robert Crosland, fed a live puppy to one of his reptiles in front of students,” Fox 13 reported.
Heavy reached out to Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, provided the above press release, which reads, in part:
Law enforcement has been diligent in their investigation and will continue to investigate information as it becomes available. We appreciate in advance the public’s patience while determination is made regarding the allegations made in the matter.
When asked if deputies did in fact report the allegations as being true, a dispatcher told Heavy: “…As soon as we say it’s under investigation, then most people say ‘well that must be true,’” and emphasized that the case is in fact under investigation.
5. The School Released a Statement & He Is Still Employed
Idaho’s Preston School District stated the following in a press release:
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.