Employee says he was fired for 'following orders' in animal cruelty case
Posted July 4
OMAHA, NEB. — It was a controversial story that erupted on social media and ended with a local business manager cited for animal cruelty. WOWT 6 News discovered that two men have ultimately been punished for the alleged crimes. One man thinks his punishment in unfair.
Reporter: "Why did he tell you that he fired you?"
Tyler Shields: "He didn't. He wouldn't answer me. He's blocked my calls, blocked my texts."
Shields was fired from ServiceMaster of Omaha last week.
"I liked the job. That's why I was disappointed when I got fired," Shields said.
The water and fire damage restoration company tells WOWT 6 News Shields was let go because of a video online that shows the results of alleged animal cruelty.
Animal lover Sheryl Spain shot the disturbing cell-phone video at ServiceMaster.
"It was absolutely horrible. I believe I had tears running down my face while I was recording that video," Spain said.
Once posted, the video has now racked up about 4,000 shares and hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook alone.
Reporter: "Were you told to kill that opossum?"
Shields: "I just followed my orders and got rid of it."
Ordered to get rid of it, but he says that was only after the animals were already dead.
Reporter: "Whose idea was it to use the barrel?"
Shields: "Um, my bosses."
A spokesperson for the fortune 1000 corporation says, "Our organization does not tolerate such behavior...The individual who was terminated was involved in the incident."
But it was actually Tyler Shield's manager who was cited by the Nebraska Humane Society for drowning the marsupial.
"Every day there'd be a new one in the trap," Shields said.
Shields says it was common to see opossums, raccoons and vermin caught in traps on their lot.
Reporter: "Did he tell everyone like 'hey we have to control this population?'"
Shields: "No. It was just between me and him."
He says his manager would kill the animals and then instruct him to dispose of the carcass.
"My job was basically just to take the animal, put it in a bag and then take it to a random dumpster, gas station or whatever after work," explained.
Now Shields is jobless.
"I ain't never drowned nothing. I never thought of putting water in a barrel and whatever," he said.
His manager however is still employed and faces only a fine.
"I got blamed for it," Shields said.
A Nebraska Humane Society investigator told WOWT 6 News their citation against Tyler's boss stands and that they have handed their investigation over to the city prosecutor. The manager did not want to speak with us.