An Unusual Case of Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty continues to garner the attention of people nationwide.  Over the years, there has been a steady push to treat animals with fairness and compassion.  This has led to regulations that impact the treatment of livestock going to slather, as well as stringent animal cruelty laws.  Breaking these laws can directly led to criminal charges and even jail time.  While we most often think of furry friends, such as a cat or dog, it is possible to sustain animal cruelty charges even for animals with fins.  One Florida man has recently learned this lesson the hard way.

Recently, a Florida resident, Robert Lee Benac, age 30 went viral for his cruel video of dragging a shark to death behind his speed boat.  He appears happy and all smiles while perpetrating this heinous act.  He shares in the act with two other friends, all of which enjoy the show while the shark continues to struggle.  Further investigation, showed that the shark had first been shot before being subjected to further torture, culminating in its painful death.

The shark is finally getting the justice it deserves as Benac has been sentenced to spending 10 days in jail.  The perpetrator was charged with a misdemeanor for one count of animal cruelty.

The offender was fortunate to receive this lesser charge as his actions initially required that he be subject to two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty.  He was offered a plea deal and accepted it in exchange for lesser charges.  This resulted in one charge being dropped entirely and the other becoming a lesser charge of animal cruelty.

Benac will face a 10-day jail sentence that must be completed in a culmination of several weekends.  Additionally, he faces consequences of a $2,500 fine, as well as 11 months of probation and community service.  Especially ironic under the circumstances is the requirement that 125 of his community service hours be completed at an animal shelter.  Additionally, the perpetrator can kiss his fishing license goodbye for the next three years.

Despite the cruel acts, Benac received mercy from the judge as adjudication was withheld, meaning there was not an actual conviction, although the incident will remain on the offender’s record.

Benac was not the only one to face backlash for the horrific demise of the shark.  Spencer Heintz and Michael Wenzel the accomplices featured in the video had also initially been charged with two felony counts.  Wenzel received mercy from the court after being offered and accepting a plea deal that reduced his consequences to a mere 10 days in jail in conjunction with probation.  Henitz, on the other hand, received total reprieve for his actions when the charges against him were dropped entirely.

The state of Florida takes animal cruelty very seriously.  Respect nature or you will face the backlash of the state.