New photo emerges of possible abuse by one of the men in shark dragging video

By John Rogers -  

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A new animal abuse photo has surfaced of one of the men in the now infamous shark dragging video. Since that shark clip was released, people have become infuriated worldwide, but so far no charges have been filed. That begs the question, why?

The new photo depicts one of the ringleaders in the shark dragging video holding a spotted eagle ray on a dock. When it was posted on social media, the man wrote "#GetTheHarpoon" and "#PrimeMakoBait."

A Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman says this is a protected species and holding one up is illegal. The agency is investigating, but this is just one of numerous photos and videos showing this man and others mistreating animals. Despite this, no charges have been filed yet.

"I'm a little surprised, in cases these days there's so much video evidence that we have now because of the advent of technology, that things are a little easier to solve," said attorney Derek Byrd.

Byrd said the shark video could be considered a case of animal cruelty under Florida law.

"I thought the word ‘animal' just automatically meant probably what you think of an animal, maybe a mammal, or domesticated pets for sure, maybe a dog or a cat, but actually the Florida Statutes define ‘animal' as every living dumb creature…By definition, a fish is a living dumb creature [and] would qualify," he said.

Byrd said these four men could be charged if investigators determine the shark was still alive.

"Once that shark dies, there's nothing that forbids anyone from them being cruel or unnecessarily unjust to the actual dead creature," said Byrd.

8 On Your Side obtained a report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2015, the agency investigated this same man after photos surfaced of him harming protected birds.

The report concluded "Special Agent [Name redacted] collected photographs during her investigation indicating violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act did occur, but was unable to establish venue or a timeframe when the photographs were taken, creating a possible issue with the statute of limitations." So the case was closed.

Charter boat captain Wayne Genthner is incensed that no charges have been filed in this latest case.

"It's given our region a black eye," said Genthner.

"Privilege doesn't always beget superiority. What privilege does is give you greater responsibility and they violated that responsibility, so thoroughly and so totally, they should be stripped of it," Genthner added.

He wants to see them charged or forced into community service.

"I am so unhappy. If I was the judge, I would throw the book at those guys so hard it would knock the stink off their butts!" Genthner added.

Genthner worries about what else the men are capable of.

"If we can't have compassion for animals, how can we have compassion for people?" he asked.

Byrd said the law would allow those old abuse photographs to be used against these men.

"In any criminal case, if you can show that someone has a history or a pattern of doing similar crimes, you can find a way to get that into evidence," explained Byrd.


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