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Man cited with animal cruelty for drowning opossum at Servicemaster location

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 21:27:43-04

A Northwest Omaha cleaning business faces harsh criticism after video surfaced - of a drowned opossum pulled from a garbage can on their property.

The shocking video has been viewed more than 66,000 times on Facebook. 

WARNING: we want to warn you that some viewers may find this video disturbing. 

"I had tears running down my face as I was recording that. It was horrible and I'll never get that out of mind," said Sheryl Spain, Community Cats of Omaha. 

"The reality is that drowning wild animals is a torturous death it was a horrible death for the animal in this case and it was completely un-necessary," said Laura Stastny, of Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Inc.

41-year-old Jorge Artolasoliz faces one count of animal cruelty based on this incident at Servicemaster near 84th & Maple. The citation is punishable by up to six months in jail or a $500 fine.

Nebraska Humane Society investigators say they found no other instances of animal cruelty at this location.

Sheryl Spain - the woman behind the video - believes this probably isn't the first instance.

She says cats have been trapped there but it's unclear if those animals were hurt in any way.  

"It's Servicemaster. It's their property. The trash can was right next their building and they admitted to trapping the day before," said Spain.

Nebraska Wildlife Rehab says it's illegal to trap and relocate critters from a distance of more than 100 yards.

"If you trap an animal you've just opened up the territory for another animal. So you trap and relocate one animal and then while your food water and shelter are still there - other animals are going to come in," said Stastny.

The humane solution - to remove the food water and shelter that may be attracting creatures like possums and raccoons.

"They are amazing animals. They actually control rodents they control insect populations and clean up garbage," said Stastny. "So, what I like to say about both possums and raccoons is that they are nature's garbage men."

A representative of ServiceMaster said the company had been notified of and was looking into the allegations about one of its franchise locations in Omaha. 

"We are aware of the very troubling allegations made against one of our franchised locations," said Alison Bishop Manager for Corporate Communications for Servicemaster. "We take this matter seriously and are investigating it thoroughly. We do not condone any mistreatment of animals."

Today a spokesperson from ServiceMaster Franchise Services Group sent this statement to 3 News Now:

We are aware of the allegations made against a former employee of a franchisee in Omaha regarding an opossum. We and the franchisee take this matter very seriously, and the employee was terminated immediately for such improper behavior.  We share the concerns expressed by so many, and do not tolerate the mistreatment of animals. We are very sorry this occurred.