Science teachers don’t have it easy. They have to explain the workings of the animal kingdom to students in a straightforward and honest way, but also have to be careful not to make things too gruesome or the kids will probably just zone out. Robert Crosland, a teacher from Idaho, obviously never got the memo on that last point and now he’s being charged with animal cruelty and could face up to six months in jail.
What could a science teacher show his students that is so unforgivably terrible that he could end up behind bars? He fed a live puppy to a large snapping turtle. Ugh.
This entire story is just straight up bizarre from beginning to end but here’s what you need to know: Crosland, for some reason, was in possession of a “sick” young dog and after classes had dismissed one day he decided that the dog would make excellent food for a snapping turtle he kept in a tank in his classroom.
According to former students, Crosland would regularly feed the turtle live animals including rats and guinea pigs. This time around the turtle’s prey happened to be a puppy, which a parent of one of the students who was present claimed was “dying.” There’s no word on what ailment the puppy suffered from or if it had been given any kind of veterinary examination or care, but that’s secondary to the fact that he tossed the animal into a friggin’ snapping turtle tank.
While some might cringe at the thought of feeding live rats and guinea pigs to a snapping turtle, especially in front of children, it seems the puppy was really the last straw. A petition to reprimand the teacher is approaching 200,000 signatures, and that was seemingly enough for law enforcement to look into things. He’ll now face a judge who will ultimately decide his fate.
Now, I’m not going to get into the weeds here about whether or not the teacher was right or wrong. Animals eat other animals, that’s just the way nature is, and plenty of people will say that the fact that it was a dog doesn’t make any difference.
If the dog was dying already, euthanasia via a veterinarian would have achieved the same end, but the animal wouldn’t have met its fate while trying to escape from the jaws of a snapping turtle. By definition, what Crosland did can easily be classified as animal cruelty. Nobody would likely have batted an eye if he tossed a mouse to the turtle, but doing the same with a live puppy obviously doesn’t sit well with most people, and you don’t need to be a scientist to understand why.
On a related note, the turtle itself is actually considered an invasive species in Crosland’s native Idaho, and was euthanized by officials after the teacher was charged.