As most of us know, life can teach some very cruel lessons. Things don't always work out for the best and the world just isn't fair a lot of the time. Not only is this true on personal levels, it's also true in the Animal Kingdom.
Science teachers sometimes have the unforgiving task of explaining how cutthroat the natural world can be, where it's eat or be eaten, kill or be killed. Even though we know it's a reality, most of us would argue that it's not the place of a science teacher to demonstrate that kind of brutality.
But that's what happened in an Idaho classroom.
Robert Crosland, a science teacher at Preston Junior High School, was a popular instructor at the school. He was known for having a variety of unusual classroom animals he would use to teach the children.
Last March, Crosland's son Mario was given a puppy by a local farmer. The small lab was sick and dying, according to the farmer, and Mario gave it to his father.
That's how a dying puppy ended up in a science classroom rather than a vet's office. What happened next led to a controversial court decision delivered last week.
After school hours, but with several students still present, Crosland attempted to feed the puppy to a snake.
"He let us hold it first," a teen who was present said. "It was small, one-handed size for a person with big hands."
Students testified that their teacher put the puppy in the snake's tank, but the snake showed little interest.
That's when he moved it to the larger tank of a snapping turtle named Jaws. The tank was filled with water and students describe the puppy as paddling around until Jaws grabbed it and pulled it under.
"And then the puppy passed out and became unconscious," a teen told the court. That's when Jaws began to feed.
Students were understandably upset and told their families what they had seen, that led to a misdemeanor charge for animal cruelty against Crosland.
He admitted to feeding the puppy to the turtle, but claims it wasn't cruelty that inspired his actions but compassion.
"I honestly thought I was doing the right thing by putting it out of its misery," Crosland said in a recorded interview to police.
Mario spoke in defence of his father arguing that the puppy was going to die anyway and should at least have a meaningful death.
“If you can lose a life to help another, then why not?” Mario said.
The jury apparently agreed and acquitted Crosland. People are not happy.
The Idaho Humane Society issued a statement immediately after the verdict.
"While we are outraged and saddened at the grievous error in judgment by the jury in this case, sadists who perpetuate acts of violence against helpless animals would be foolish to be emboldened by this recent and anomalous miscarriage of justice," they wrote.
Social media has brought more attention to animal abuse crimes, which carry relatively minor punishments. Many states now have, or are debating, creating registries for those convicted of animal abuse.