Men filmed dragging shark to its death charged with animal cruelty

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Three men who filmed themselves dragging a shark from the back of a boat have been charged with animal cruelty.

The video, which went viral earlier this year, shows the trio laughing as the animal flops about in the water near Florida.

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Michael Wenzel, 21, Spencer Heintz, 23, and Robert Lee Benac, 28, have all been charged.

Wenzel and Benac face an additional misdemeanor charge of illegal method of take-shark, which is a law around how shark can be fished.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement: ‘I was outraged by the sickening video of a shark being horribly abused earlier this year.

Men filmed dragging shark to its death charged with animal cruelty
The shark was dragged behind a speedboat (Picture: YouTube/Wide Open Spaces)

‘Florida has no tolerance for this mistreatment, and I am proud of the hard work of FWC law enforcement during this investigation to hold these individuals accountable for their horrific actions.’

The video was posted online by fisherman ‘Mark the Shark’ Mark Quartiano after two of the men in the boat sent him the footage.

‘I was horrified,’ Mr Quartiano told CNN. ‘I just couldn’t believe it … somebody’s actually sending me maybe an illegal video of a shark being tortured.

‘I’ve been shark fishing for 50 years and I’ve never seen a disrespect for an animal my entire career that was that evil.’

Viewers who saw the clip were also upset.

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One user wrote: ‘OMG!!! If that’s their afternoon fun I hate to imagine what they do at night??? Sick bastards!!’

Another added: ‘Sociopaths get a kick out of abusing animals.’

The charges were brought against the trio following a lengthy investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Spokesperson Bo Rivard said: ‘We appreciate the patience and support of the public as our law enforcement investigators worked with Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office to identify a number of serious violations that will be brought to the court for adjudication.’

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