A school district in Idaho is investigating an incident that took place last week in which a science teacher allegedly fed a live puppy to one of his reptiles in front of students.
Local animal rights activist Jill Parrish filed a report with police in Preston, a small town about 90 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
"What I have learned in the last four days is disgusting. It is sick. It is sick," Parrish told KTLA sister station KSTU in Salt Lake City.
A teacher at Preston Junior High told her that last week after school Robert Crosland fed a live puppy, who was reportedly sick, to one of his reptiles, Parrish said. The teacher has a snake and a snapping turtle. Apparently, it happened in front of students.
"Allowing children to watch an innocent baby puppy scream because it is being fed to an animal. That is violence. That is not OK," said Parrish.
A seventh-grader at the school, Este Hull, said the teacher has in past fed mice or birds to the reptiles.
"I feel a little bit better that it was a puppy that was going to die, not just a healthy puppy," Hull said.
It's a sentiment echoed by parents Annette Salvesen and Julie Johnson.
"If it was a deformed puppy that was going to die anyway. Cros is very much circle of life," said Salveson.
"He’s the best science teacher Preston Junior High has," said Johnson.
Franklin County Sheriff David Fryar says the department is looking into it.
"We’re investigating the facts and turning it over to the prosecutor. He’s the one who will determine if the law has been broken," said Fryar.
Preston School District Superintendent Mark Gee says Crosland is still employed at Preston Junior High and while the incident is under investigation, he’s not been placed on administrative leave.
Even if the puppy was going to die, Parrish doesn't think this was the way to do it.
"There’s a lot of humane things you can do. Feeding a live animal to a reptile is not humane and it's not OK," said Parrish.
However, other parents say it's just a hands-on way to teach the "circle of life."
"If you’re not fine with it, leave the room," says Salvesen.
Idaho's Preston School District sent KSTU this statement:
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.