The outcry over the kicking and abusing of a puppy by the CEO of a multi-billion dollar catering and concession company that provides the food and beverages at the new stadium of the San Francisco 49ers, for the San Francisco Giants and for other sports teams around the country is rising to such a crescendo that more than 180,000 people have signed an online petition demanding he be fired.
Desmond Hague -- the CEO of Connecticut-based Centerplate -- was caught on tape kicking the one-year-old Doberman Pinscher as it cowered at his feet. Then, for no apparent reason Hague dragged and yanked the puppy by its leash -- lifting it off the floor of the elevator they were riding in -- briefly choking the helpless dog.
The recorded portion of the incident comes to an end when the elevator stops and Hague and the dog -- named Sade -- walk off the elevator. The abuse was recorded on the elevator’s surveillance video in a high-rise luxury condo in Vancouver in late July.
Once the tape surfaced, the video started going viral. Local authorities began investigating and public outrage over the incident -- stoked by a wide range of media outlets reporting the heartbreaking details with shock and indignation -- grew swift and furious.
“Don’t watch it,” Sports Illustrated writer George Dohrmann warned in an article about the incident. “It is too hurtful, too disgusting. You don’t need to see it,” Dohrmann wrote in his report described in its headline as a “despicable dog abuse scandal."
Indeed, for any animal lover, dog owner, or just anybody with a shred of decency, the tape is difficult to watch. But, if you dare, or care, you probably should.
“The Worst Person in the Dog World This Week Is This Abusive CE0,” screamed the headline in Dogster, a San Francisco-based online dog publication. The Dogster article described Hague as putting “himself and his firm in a lot of trouble” over the incident.
Even the venerable Fortune Magazine entered the fray, asking in a headline, “Will a dog-abuse scandal sink stadium caterer Centerplate?” The scandal may not doom the massive food company, which has been in business since 1929 and does about $6 billion in annual revenues, but the scandal may drown Hague’s career in a sea of public outrage.
“Fire Centerplate CEO Des Hague. Animal abusers should think about the implications when caught abusing an animal,” wrote Erica Perry, a self-described "animal lover" who initiated the petition for Change.org, the online group circulating the electronic petition over the Internet calling for the ouster of Hague.
By Monday -- a little more than a week after the petition started making it rounds -- more than 180,000 people had put their electronic signatures on it.
After Centerplate initially described the emerging scandal as a “personal matter,” it issued an updated statement saying its Board of Directors had met in a special meeting and had moved to place Hague on “indefinite probation.”
The board also said Hague would donate $100,000 towards the establishment of foundation in honor of the dog to support the protection and safety of animals in Vancouver. Hague was also directed by the board to serve 1000 hours of community service in support of an organization that serves to protect the welfare and safety of animals.
As for Sade, she was taken by animal welfare officials and now is in what’s described as “good hands.”