The Idaho Attorney General’s office is reviewing potential animal cruelty charges against a Preston science teacher who has been accused feeding a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in his junior high school classroom earlier this month.
After Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigated the March 8 complaint of animal cruelty, the report was sent to the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Vic Pearson to review potential animal cruelty charges against Robert Crosland. The office passed the case on to the attorney general’s office, citing a conflict of interest.
The Idaho Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the investigation, but confirmed that it accepted the case on Tuesday.
According to a friend of Crosland, he did put the puppy — which was sick, dying and had been abandoned — in the snapping turtle’s tank, where it drowned and was eaten. Three boys were in the classroom at the time, but it was after school, River McKay said.
The mother of two of the boys in the classroom at Preston Junior High School said her sons understood what was happening, and weren’t upset by the turtle eating the puppy.
But a school staff member was, and reportedly sent details of what happened to a woman who filed a police report, McKay said.
The incident has received sharp criticism from animal rights groups and their supporters.
He has also received support from his community. As of Thursday morning, 3,685 people had signed an online petition in support of Crosland.
After the story spread, someone posted threats of violence online, and on March 15, Franklin County and Preston police stationed law enforcement officers at the junior high and other schools in the district. The FBI was also contacted by Idaho law enforcement about the threats. The officers were still stationed on Thursday morning, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
The turtle has since been “humanely” euthanized, according to Idaho State Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Chanel Tewalt, because it is considered an invasive species and Crosland didn’t have a permit.
Neither the Preston School District nor Preston Junior High School responded to requests for comment. The Salt Lake Tribune has been unable to reach Crosland. As of last week, he was still in his classroom, pending the results of the district’s investigation, the Associated Press reported.