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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Business News

Rays concessionaire CEO draws ire after kicking dog


Published:   |   Updated: August 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM

The chief executive of the company that handles concessions at Tropicana Field and dozens of North American stadiums said he was ashamed and remorseful after surveillance video of him kicking a friend’s dog went public.

The video has raised the ire of animal groups and even some of the teams the company does business with.

Connecticut-based Centerplate said Tuesday night it was reviewing the incident and that the executive, Desmond Hague, has agreed to attend counseling to address anger management issues.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Hague said in a statement. “This incident is completely and utterly out of character and I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed.”

The video, taken in July inside an elevator at a Vancouver apartment tower, shows Hague kicking the Doberman puppy and yanking the leash to lift the dog’s paw off the ground, according to Global News in British Columbia. The province’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received the video from a “citizen,” investigated and took possession of the dog, according to reports.

The images, recorded in late July and leaked last week, have brought an avalanche of complaints from animal rights groups, some seeking Hague’s firing.

The incident also elicited statements from several teams the company does business with, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

“We think the actions in the video are totally unacceptable and disturbing,” the team’s statement said. “The Rays’ organization, our players and front office employees have deep-rooted involvement with animal shelters throughout the Tampa Bay region and are proud to support them.

“We have spoken to Centerplate and we are confident they will handle this issue in an appropriate manner.”

Hague faces no criminal charges at this time. In his statement, Hague said a “minor frustration” with the dog “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,” he said.

“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.”

In addition to the Rays, Centerplate has contracts with the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, as well as nine NFL teams, two other Major League Baseball teams, several colleges and clubs in the NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer.

“We find the actions of Centerplate’s CEO to be deplorable and will closely monitor this matter as the company conducts its internal review,” said Notre Dame University, a client of the concessionaire.

The San Francisco 49ers, a Centerplate customer at their new stadium, said they were “disturbed” to learn of the incident.

“We believe his actions are not reflective of the efforts and service provided by the hundreds of Centerplate employees working to present our fans with a tremendous experience at Levi’s Stadium,” the 49ers said in a statement.

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