Inmate working at Memphis animal shelter charged with abuse that killed cat

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An inmate with the Shelby County Corrections Center has been arrested for spraying toxic chemicals on a cat at Memphis Animal Services.

Joshua Hawkins, who was on work duty, was caught on security cameras as MAS spraying a bottle of Sano Brite cleaner into a closed cage housing a 10-year-old cat named “Uptimus.”

The cleaner contains phosphoric acid which can cause severe skin burns, redness, burning and blistering.

Hawkins, who was wearing gloves and a face mask because of the toxicity of the chemical, was seen spraying the bottle “with both hands multiple times into the kennel before returning to clean the other open kennels.”

MAS director James Rogers reported Hawkins to police, saying MAS has a policy of never spraying the chemical into an occupied kennel.

The cat was taken the Animal Emergency Center to be treated for external and internal chemical burns, and later died.

A veterinarian said it appeared the cleaning chemical was highly concentrated and “not safe enough to use or diluted enough to clean the kennels while any pets were inside or placed into after cleaning.”

The veterinarian said the burns were caused by contact with the chemical.

Hawkins, who was in jail for  is charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.