A major concessions company faces boycotts from sports fans outraged by surveillance video of its CEO kicking a puppy and yanking its leash during an elevator ride.
Des Hague, chief executive officer of Connecticut-based Centerplate, insisted his actions were “completely and utterly out of character.”
The video was recorded by a surveillance camera at a Vancouver apartment building, and it shows Hague lightly kick the Doberman pinscher puppy in the abdomen.
He then kicks several more times, but increasingly harder, and yanks the puppy’s leash as it cowers away from him on the elevator’s floor.
Hague then roughly pulls the dog by its leash behind him as he exits the elevator.
“I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response,” Hague said in a statement. “I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”
The video surfaced last week, and fans began protesting this weekend at sports arenas where Centerplate sells food and drinks.
Some fans outside BC Place in Vancouver, which was hosting a Canadian Football League Game, said they would not buy any food or drinks at the stadium and called for Hague’s firing.
The $6 billion business supplies concessions at venues around the U.S. and Canada, including Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, the Superdome in New Orleans, the new Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, and Notre Dame.
Centerplate has more than 30,000 employees and 350 clients, and the company issued a statement saying it did “not condone the mistreatment of animals.”
Hague previously held executive positions at IHOP, Safeway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and 7-Eleven.
He has agreed to attend anger management counseling and has “pledged a significant, personal, multi-year financial commitment to help support the protection and safety of animals.”
The dog did not suffer any serious injuries in the incident, and it has been removed from its owner’s care by the SPCA of British Columbia.
No charges have been filed at this point against Hague, but a crisis management expert said Centerplate must do more than issue a press release.
“My immediate reaction to this news was, this is a guy who will kick and drag a friend’s dog — what else is there to say about him?” said Steve Paskoff, CEO of corporate sensitivity training company ELI. “And if he treats defenseless dogs this way, how is he treating people?”
Watch video of the incident posted online by Global News: