CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reached out to schools in Cedar Springs after learning about the gruesome video that a local student posted to Facebook showing family members beheading a live snapping turtle.
FOX 17 first reported the incident Sept. 8, when an outcry spread throughout social media as many residents protested, as well as defended, the turtle mutilation.
TeachKind is the youth outreach division of PETA, which focuses on supporting humane education in schools. Nina Kahn, TeachKind coordinator, emailed several principals of schools in Cedar Springs on Friday.
“PETA was very disturbed to see this act of violence on video, as were many other people,” said Kahn. “That’s why we’re reaching out to schools to let them know that countless studies show that people who abuse animals will rarely stop at that.”
As FOX 17 reported, a Cedar Springs student, who does not attend Cedar Springs Public Schools, posted the video to her Facebook page, showing herself and her brother using pliers and a hacksaw to slowly saw off the head of a living snapping turtle. According to their Facebook comments, they said they used the turtle for food.
Kahn said concerned residents reached out to PETA. In TeachKind’s emailed letter to school principals in Cedar Springs, Kahn suggested multiple resources to embed lessons on empathy, and animal cruelty resources, into the classroom.
“We can offer schools free student materials, free lesson plans, we can help schools start their own animal rights clubs,” said Kahn. “So we’re hoping to hear back from some Cedar Springs principals to take us up on some of our resources.”
In response, Dan George, superintendent of Creative Technologies Academy in Cedar Springs, reportedly the school of the student who posted the Facebook video, emailed a letter to FOX 17.
George made it clear that this mutilation incident did not happen on school grounds, but said their curriculum and Strong Character Education Program includes developing traits like kindness.
George also said that the school offers counseling services for anyone adversely affected by these issues.
Initially, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also reviewed this video. Ed Golder, DNR public information officer, said although the DNR is disappointed that this video was posted to social media, and advocates a faster means of killing an animal, the DNR called this beheading legal.
“Legal or not, to slowly saw the head off a living, breathing being is unarguably inhumane,” said Kahn. “We’re hoping schools will incorporate lessons on humane education, to help prevent any unneeded suffering.”
George also told FOX 17 that he is a hunter and that he stands by this legality, but does not approve of the way this snapping turtle was killed. George said he is willing to consider curriculum suggestions, and may reach out to TeachKind in the future.
As of Tuesday evening, Kahn said no schools officials have reached out to TeachKind.
For anyone who would like more resources on humane education, see TeachKind.org.