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TAMPA, Fla. – A sheriff’s deputy in Florida was arrested on animal cruelty charges after investigators said he killed his girlfriend’s cat after an argument.

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In a news release, the Tampa Police Department said that Eric Harris, a deputy for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, had an argument with his girlfriend on Aug. 21 over issues surrounding the girlfriend’s two cats. Police said Harris had recently moved in with his girlfriend.

When Harris’ girlfriend returned home on Aug. 22, she said that both cats were hiding in their crate. When she pulled a 3-year-old male named Axel from the crate, she saw the nails on his rear paws were broken and bloody, police said in the news release. The cat was also acting oddly and unable to stand using its rear legs.

The girlfriend immediately took the cat to the vet, which recommended the animal go to a hospital for urgent care. The cat died from its injuries the same day.

The severity of the cat’s injuries prompted the veterinarian to contact police, WFLA reported.

A necropsy on Axel done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Aug. 26 found that the cat had severe hemorrhaging and bruising to internal organs, facial injuries — including a missing tooth — and markings on his body that indicated he had been stomped, police said in the news release. The cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma.

Detectives said that when they questioned Harris, he denied any wrongdoing and claimed the cat was fine when they were alone in the apartment.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office told WTVT that Harris was fired after his arrest.