Boat Captain Convicted of Animal Cruelty in Shark-Dragging Case

A Florida man has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in an unusual case that involved a video of a shark being dragged behind a boat. Michael Wenzel, the boat’s captain, was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 11 months probation. The case attracted attention when a video of the shark being dragged went viral. In the footage, men on the boat could be heard laughing each time the animal’s body bounced off the water. During his court appearance, Wenzel reportedly smiled when asked whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident. “Is there something funny about this?” the judge asked. Wenzel made no public apology and left court quickly after the brief hearing. A second man charged in the case is set for trial later this year.

“This is a slap on the wrist. He hasn’t been educated about what he’s done,” said Marie Galbraith, a member of Florida Voices for Animals. Wenzel was also ordered to serve 100 community service hours. A prosecutor asked that 50 hours be served at an animal shelter, but it is unknown whether Wenzel will be allowed to work around animals.