Pasco deputy arrested for stomping ex-girlfriend's cat to death, Tampa police say

Axel, 3-year-old male cat. Courtesy: Tampa Police Department. 

A former Pasco Sheriff's Office deputy was arrested for stomping his ex-girlfriend's cat to death, the Tampa Police Department said. 

Police said the deputy, Eric Harris, got into an argument on Aug. 21 with his then-girlfriend, who he recently moved into a Tampa apartment with. Harris was upset over his girlfriend's two cats defecating on the floor outside of their litter box and jumping onto the counters and furniture, according to Tampa police. 

Harris' girlfriend returned home on Aug. 22 and found both her cats hiding in a crate, TPD said. Her 3-year-old male cat named Axel was found with broken and bloody claws on his rear paws. 

Axel was also acting odd and wasn't able to stand using his back legs, so Harris' girlfriend took the cat to her veterinarian in Sarasota, according to investigators. Axel was then taken to an animal hospital for urgent car, but the cat did die from its injuries. 

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TPD said Harris was questioned by detectives and denied any wrongdoing and claimed the cat was fine during the time he was alone in the apartment. 

A necropsy of the cat was done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which found that Axel suffered severe hemorrhaging and bruising to internal organs. Detectives said the 3-year-old cat also had facial injuries, including a missing tooth, and markings were found on its body indicating he had been stomped. 

Axel's caused of death was ruled blunt force trauma, according to Tampa police. 

Harris was arrested by TPD officers at his home and is now facing a charge of felony animal cruelty, investigators said. The Pasco Sheriff's Office has confirmed Harris' employment was terminated when he was arrested.