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Idaho teacher accused of animal cruelty pleads not guilty at court appearance Tuesday

A Preston Junior High teacher accused of animal cruelty in connection with the feeding of a classroom animal in March pleaded not guilty to the charge in Franklin County Court on Tuesday morning, according to Local News 8.

Robert Crosland was charged in June with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty for allegedly feeding a live puppy to a snapping turtle, causing "needless suffering" to the puppy, according to the criminal complaint.

A trial date has been set for Oct. 26, Local News reporter Max Cohan tweeted from court Tuesday.

If convicted, Crosland faces penalties of up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. The Idaho Attorney General's Office made the charging decision at the request of the Franklin County prosecutor, citing conflict of interest.

People around the country were outraged when word spread about the after-school feeding. Several online petitions called for Crosland to be fired, and one now has more than 198,000 signatures. More than 3,900 people have signed a petition in support of Crosland.

In March , state officials seized and euthanized Crosland's snapping turtle, which are considered an invasive species in Idaho.

Katy Moeller: 208-502-7229