Centerplate CEO Desmond Hague resigned this morning, following outrage over footage that shows him kicking and choking a dog in a Vancouver elevator.
In the graphic video, captured on CCTV in July, Hague can be seen entering a residential elevator in the Hotel Georgia and proceeding to kick a one-year-old Doberman Pinscher named Sade several times as she cowers on the floor. He then yanks her leash so hard he lifts her off the ground.
Two weeks ago, the tape was sent by a hotel employee to the British Columbia office of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as to news outlets. The animal protection agency didn’t waste any time obtaining a warrant to locate the then-unidentified abuser and remove the dog from his care.
When his identity was uncovered, Hague’s company—which supplies catering to some of the largest sports stadiums and convention centers in North America—placed him on probation, ordered him to complete 1,000 hours of community service and donate $100,000 to establish The Sade Foundation, in honor of the dog he abused. Hague also released the following statement via his lawyer:
“I take full responsibility for my actions, this incident is completely and utterly out of character and I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed. Under the circumstances of the evening in question, a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response. Unfortunately, I acted inappropriately, and I am deeply sorry for that and am very grateful that no harm was caused to the animal. I have reached out to the SPCA and have personally apologized to the dog’s owner. At this time, I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”
However, it wasn’t enough for animal lovers, who took to social media to call for a Centerplate boycott and gathered 189,000-signatures, asking for his removal from the company. In light of the negative press, Hague was made to resign.
Since the incident, Sade has been under the care of the BC SPCA and will remain with them while Crown Counsel decides whether to return her to Hague’s friend, her legal owner, or re-home her. In the meantime, the animal rescue group is recommending that criminal charges be brought against the CEO himself.
“She’s doing great,” BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk tells Vocativ, adding that the case highlights the importance of reporting acts of violence against animals. “That’s how we find out, we rely on the public to be our eyes and ears to report when there is animal abuse or cruelty.”