A Minneapolis man, in the process of a breakup with his girlfriend, allegedly drowned her pet ferret in its water bowl, according to felony animal cruelty charges filed Friday in Hennepin County District Court.

Thomas James Hart, 23, is charged with two counts of animal torture or cruelty to a companion animal resulting in death and one count for the purpose of terrorizing a person. According to charges, police were called at 1:49 a.m. Wednesday to the apartment Hart shared with his girlfriend at 1524 LaSalle Av. They found the girlfriend crying hysterically and repeating, "He drowned it! He killed my pet ferret!"

The woman told police that Hart was her boyfriend, she was trying to break up and he agreed to move out of her apartment at the end of the month. Earlier in the evening, he went to a bar with her and another friend, but he left angrily because he felt the women were having a "girls' night." The women returned to the apartment at 12:30 a.m. The girlfriend told police she went to feed the ferret when she noticed its head was wet and the rest of its body was dry, then realized it was dead.

Hart then allegedly pulled a knife from his backpack and ordered the woman's friend from the apartment. Both women ran across the street and called police. Hart had previously threatened to kill the ferret, the girlfriend told police.

Officers searched the building and found Hart hiding beneath a piece of plywood. He was arrested and allegedly said, "I didn't kill that ferret! I opened the front door and just let it go!"

Police noted that the ferret's water bowl had been taken from the cage and was lying on the floor, and that a couch cushion was soaked. The woman told police she believed Hart drowned the ferret in its water bowl.

Police found the ferret's body behind a Dumpster in the alley. The fur on its head was wet while the rest of it was dry. Animal Control took the body; an autopsy is pending.

Hart was arrested and booked into Hennepin County jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921