Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Teacher Charged With Animal Cruelty for Feeding Puppy to Turtle

Sometimes you read a story and all can you can do is close your eyes, shake your head slowly, and maybe mutter, "But why, though?" This is one of those stories. For some reason, a teacher in Idaho decided to feed a puppy to a snapping turtle. And as if that wasn't bad enough, he did it in front of students. After word got out about the teacher's actions, the news quickly spread and sparked outrage. Now, the teacher has been charged with animal cruelty and could spend time in jail.

Cruelty in Napoleon Dynamite's Backyard

Until now, Preston, Idaho was only famous for being the town featured in Napoleon Dynamite. But thanks to an incident oddly similar to the scene where the farmer shoots the cow in front of a bus-load of children, Preston is making new headlines.

Preston Junior High School science teacher, Robert Crosland, is accused of feeding a puppy to a snapping turtle. Although the incident didn't occur during school hours, students were present for the demonstration. After parents came forward about it, state officials took custody of and euthanized the turtle since it was listed as a non-native species.

Animal Cruelty

While there is no specific federal law against animal cruelty, the Animal Welfare Act requires animals who are transported, bred, or sold to be given adequate care, housing, sanitation, and nutrition. Conversely, most states do have specific statutes regarding animal cruelty, although they vary widely in how strictly they protect animals. Idaho falls pretty far down on the list, ranking as the ninth worst state on the Animal Legal Defense Fund's 2017 report.

In Idaho, animal cruelty includes "the intentional and malicious infliction of pain, physical suffering, injury or death upon an animal." It also includes subjecting an animal to needless suffering. For a first offense, which this would appear to be, the penalty is jail for not more than six months, a fine between $100 and $5,000, or both. If the Preston teacher is convicted, this punishment won't seem like enough to some. Others argue he was merely demonstrating the "circle of life." But why, though?

Hopefully we all treat our animals humanely. But if you've been accused of animal cruelty or want to hold someone accountable for hurting your pet, get in touch with an attorney who can help protect your interests.

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