It has been more than five months since a video went viral on social media showing a shark being dragged by a speed boat. On Tuesday, three Bradenton, Florida men faced animal abuse charges after an extensive investigation.
According to WsmvNews, a press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation states Robert Lee “Bo” Benac, 28, Michael Wenzel, 21, and Spencer Heintz, 33, have each been charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty – a third degree felony. In addition, Benac and Wenzel also face one count of illegal method of the taking of a shark – a second degree misdemeanor.
In July, the disturbing video showed at least four men smiling as they dragged a shark behind a speed boat. The video sparked outrage as it began circulating on social media – one of the laughing men could be heard saying “Look it’s almost dead,” as the shark’s body is flailed around in the churning water behind the boat. After the horrific boat dragging ended, one of the men held up the mangled body of the shark for a photo. According to experts, the shark was still alive, and in agony, while being dragged.
The video ignited enough social outrage to bring about a petition demanding legal action against the men in the video. Florida Governor Rick Scott issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“I was outraged by the sickening video of a shark being horribly abused earlier this year. Florida has no tolerance for this mistreatment, and I am proud of the hard work of the FWC law enforcement during this investigation to hold these individuals accountable for their horrific actions.”
Third-degree felonies for aggravated animal cruelty are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additional charges for Wenzel and Benac are punishable by the maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
(Photos of shark dragged Instagram mark/the shark)
Link to video here.
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