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Centerplate CEO steps down after dog-abuse incident in Vancouver

Desmond Hague was caught on video kicking and pulling at the leash of a friends Doberman pinscher while in a Vancouver condo elevator.

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Centerplate Inc. chief executive officer Desmond Hague is stepping down after a much-publicized incident in which he was caught on video abusing a dog in a downtown Vancouver condo elevator.

The board of directors of the South Carolina-based food-services company said on Tuesday that the president and CEO is resigning "as a result of Hague's personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care."

Centerplate chief operating officer Chris Verros has been appointed acting president and CEO.

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"We want to reiterate that we do not condone nor would we ever overlook the abuse of animals," Centerplate chairman Joe O'Donnell said.

"Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I'd like to apologize for the distress that this situation has cause to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident. Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances."

Last week, Centerplate's board had ordered Mr. Hague to donate $100,000 (U.S.) to establish a foundation in honour of the dog he has admitted to kicking and yanking on its leash.

The donation was a condition for Mr. Hague's staying on at the company, which provides services to venues throughout North America, including BC Place.

Mr. Hague was also put on "indefinite" probation and subject to immediate termination of his employment in the event of further misconduct, and the company's board also demanded he put in 1,000 hours of community service related to animal welfare.

The incident involving a year-old female Doberman pinscher was captured on video and aired on a British Columbia television station last month.

Mr. Hague was seen kicking the dog – which belonged to a friend – and then hauling it by the leash in an elevator at the Private Residences of the Hotel Georgia.

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The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received a copy of the surveillance videotape – reportedly recorded in July – from a member of the public on Aug. 19 and immediately launched an investigation that included acting on a search warrant.

The SPCA took the dog into custody.

Centerplate said last week that Mr. Hague was "truly ashamed" of his behaviour and has expressed "sincere remorse and shame for erratic behaviour that is uncharacteristic of him."

Mr. Hague sent a statement to the Global News TV station that aired the video, expressing remorse and taking "full responsibility" for his actions.

"This incident is completely and utterly out of character and I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed," he said. "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 grateful that no harm was caused to the animal."

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Mr. Hague said he had apologized to the dog's owner.

With a file from Ian Bailey, Vancouver

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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