TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Pasco County sheriff’s deputy was arrested for animal abuse Wednesday after authorities said he stomped on his girlfriend’s cat while she was away. The cat later died.
According to the Tampa Police Department, deputy Eric Harris got into an argument with his then-girlfriend on Aug. 21 after her two cats defecated on the floor outside their litter box and jumped onto the counters and furniture around the apartment.
A day later, when Harris’ girlfriend returned home, she found both of her cats hiding in their crate. When she pulled her 3-year-old cat, named Axel, from the crate, she noticed the cat’s toenails on its rear paws were broken and bloody.
The cat was also acting in a bizarre manner and was unable to stand using its rear legs. She took the cat to a veterinarian in Sarasota, Florida, who then referred her to an animal hospital for more serious treatment.
The cat died from its injuries the same day.
Due to the severity of the cat’s injuries, the doctor contacted local authorities.
Officers said Harris denied any wrongdoing and claimed the cat was fine while he was alone with it in the apartment.
Several days after the initial incident, a necropsy found the cat suffered severe hemorrhaging and bruising to internal organs and had facial injuries, including a missing tooth.
Markings were also found on the cat’s body indicating that someone had stomped on it. The cat’s cause of death was ruled as blunt force trauma.
On Wednesday, Harris was arrested by the Tampa Police Department at his home. He faced one charge of felony animal cruelty.