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Tag: elevator

Des Hague resigns as Centerplate CEO amid continuing backlash from dog lovers

deshagueAmid continuing backlash over a video that showed him abusing a dog on an elevator, Des Hague has resigned as CEO of the giant sports catering company Centerplate.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company announced the appointment of a new CEO yesterday.

In a statement, the company’s board of directors didn’t say whether Hague’s resignation was requested — only that “the decision comes as a result of Hague’s “personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care.”

Since the video surfaced in August, dog lovers have been calling for Hague’s firing and threatening to boycott food offerings at stadiums serviced by Centerplate.

In Canada, protestors took to the streets to urge sports team to end their associations with Centerplate.

And a change.org petition asking Centerplate to fire Hague has accumulated close to 200,000 signatures.

Experts being quoted in the media are saying Hague’s fall shows the tremendous power of social media.

We like to think it shows the tremendous power of dog lovers, who happen to be using social media.

Centerplate provides food services to sports venues around the country, holding contracts with teams in the NFL, NBA, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.

The video — which shows Hague kicking the dog and jerking her off the ground by her leash — was recorded in July by a surveillance camera in the elevator of a Vancouver apartment building. It was turned over to the BC SPCA, which seized the dog, a one-year-old Doberman named Sade.

Hague initially told investigators the dog was his. Later, in a public apology, he said the incident was “a minor frustration with a friend’s pet” and that he had apologized to the dog’s owner.”

The BC SPCA says it’s now clear the dog wasn’t Hague’s, and her owner is seeking to regain custody.

Centerplate initially had little comment on the incident, calling it “a personal matter involving Des Hague.”

But as the backlash from animals built up it issued two more statements — one to announce that Hague had agreed to undergo anger management counseling, another to say he had been put on probation by the company, and had agreed to donate $100,000 to an animal charity and serve 1,000 hours of community service, according to Fortune.com.

In a statement announcing Hague’s resignation and the appointment of Chris Verros as CEO, the chairman of Centerplate’s board of directors said, “We want to reiterate that we do not condone nor would we ever overlook the abuse of animals. Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I’d like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused 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.”

The BC SPCA has recommended abuse charges, and the case is now before Crown Counsel.

CEO caught kicking dog on surveillance cam

It’s not every day that you find Fortune magazine covering a dog abuse story.

But when the apparent abuser is CEO of a prominent sports catering company, and the abuse is captured on an elevator surveillance camera, it raises some questions — including, in this case at least, whether he should remain in that position.

Many a dog lover is calling for the immediate firing of Des Hague, CEO of  Centerplate, a food service company that runs the concessions at several sports arenas nationwide, including those that are home to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers.

Many are suggesting a boycott of the food served by Centerplate at the stadiums it has contracts with.

So, in a way, it is a business story — Hague’s atrocious behavior, public as it has gone, could play a role in the future of the company.

But it’s also a dog story, so you should know that the pup was not seriously injured (at least in a physical way) and has been removed from the care of Hague.

While some reports say Hague was watching the dog for a friend, a spokesperson for the BC SPCA  said Hague appears to be the owner of the year-old Doberman Pinscher named Sade.

The BC SPCA is keeping the dog in an undisclosed location, either a shelter or foster arrangement.

deshagueThis week, Hague released a statement of apology, through his attorney, calling the incident “completely and utterly out of character … I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed… a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response … I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”

Centerplate, based in Connecticut, says it “does not condone the mistreatment of animals by any of its employees” — that’s good to know — and that  it was conducting an internal review of the matter.

“Mr. Hague has agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues and has publicly expressed he is deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behavior,” the statement continued. “He has apologized to everyone directly involved as well as to the company’s clients and employees, and has pledged a significant, personal, multiyear financial commitment to help support the protection and safety of animals.”

The company’s board of directors says it has ordered Hague to donate $100,000 toward the establishment of the Sade Foundation, named after the dog he mistreated in the elevator, Fox 12 in Oregon reported.

In addition, the board is requiring him to serve 1000 hours of community service at an animal welfare organization.

While those steps might be an attempt to cut off any criminal prosecution, they don’t preclude charges being filed. They do show that the company’s board members — by appointing themselves judge and jury — are aware how serious the public is taking his misdeeds.

Whether the financial donation and community service are voluntary or company-ordered, they still seem a little like Michael Vick’s “redemption” song, which not too many people bought as sincere.

Sorry, rich guys. But forgiveness can’t be achieved by writing a check. Nice as it would be to see Hague pay, and pay, and pay, money doesn’t erase misdeeds. And, as Vick’s dogfighting case showed, dog lovers have a very long and unforgiving memory.

When what can go wrong does

Here’s a scenario that — even before I saw this frightening video — has flashed through my mind often since I became a dog walker.

As a natural-born worrier (I suspect it’s in my genes), I’m prone to assessing the situation I’m in — even when it’s an entirely pleasant one — and picturing the worst thing that could possibly happen, no matter how unlikely it is.

After six decades, I still haven’t totally gotten over my fear of being sucked under the escalator grate as the step I’m standing on flattens out and disappears.

In my dog walking job, I visit three small dogs at an assisted living center, take them down the elevator, out for a walk, and then back up the elevator to their masters’ rooms.

The possibility of this happening, or something like it, popped into my head my first day.

What if, as the elevator doors closed, a dog darted out, ending up on the opposite side as the elevator went down?

I’ve kept a firm grip on the retractable leash — and kept it in the locked position — ever since having that mental image. After seeing this video, I’ll keep an even firmer one.

Tamara Seibert, a college student in Toronto was riding the elevator March 2 with two dogs — hers and a friends. They were heading from her condo unit down to the parking garage. As the doors closed, the end of her dog’s leash was caught outside the elevator.

Vado, her five-year-old, 110-pound Rottweiler, was violently jerked upward as the elevator descended, and Seibert struggled to remove his collar, breaking two fingers in the process, she told the Toronto Sun.

“I thought I was going to watch him die,” Seibert said.

Thankfully, the clasp on Vado’s leash snapped under pressure, and he fell to the floor about the same time the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. Thankfully too, Vado’s prong-type collar had been put on with the prongs on the outside.

Seibert, a student at Ryerson University, obtained video from the surveillance camera and posted it on her Facebook page as a warning to others.

It was reposted to YouTube, where it’s drawing all sorts of insensitive comments from people who would rather get in a good jab than learn something from someone else’s experience.

Painful as it is to watch, it’s a teachable moment, and one that proves not all my unnatural fears are that unnatural.

I, for one, have become even more cautious on the elevator, and I’m contemplating switching to the stairs — especially if I’m ever taking two dogs with me at once.

As for Vado, he’s fine.

“I can’t believe its been almost a month since I went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life,” Seibert wrote in a Facebook post. “I thought I was about to lose the love of my life (my puppy) and seriously mangled my hand in the process … I want to warn people how fast something so simple can go horribly wrong.”

New Orleans officers charged in K-9 deaths

neworleansTwo New Orleans police officers have been charged in connection with the deaths of two police dogs in unrelated incidents.

Jason Lewis, 33, is accused of leaving Primo, a Belgian Malinois, unattended in a police department SUV, leading to the dog’s heat related death.

The case was heavily publicized last summer when the Metropolitan Crime Commission released photographs, including the one above, which shows what Primo did to the vehicle before dying from apparent heat stroke. Lewis was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.

Sgt. Randy Lewis, a former supervisor in the New Orleans Police Department’s K-9 unit, meanwhile, was charged with malfeasance in office, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Randy Lewis, 45, was handling another K-9, Phantom, who last May fell down an open elevator shaft at the abandoned Charity Hospital building in downtown New Orleans — while Lewis was moonlighting.  Lewis claimed he was on duty and involved in a training exercise, according to a spokesman for the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office. Actually he was being paid to work on a private security detail.

Neither officer has worked with dogs since the deaths.

Attorneys for the officers said the charges are unfair and they will fight them in court.

“Both of these cases are significant above and beyond the fact that, tragically, an animal lost its life,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, which last summer asked the district attorney’s office to look at the cases. “I think that these cases, both of them, indicate and speak to the police department’s inability to adequately police itself.”

According to an LSU necropsy report, Primo, 6 years old, likely died from shock due to heat stroke. He was taken to a veterinary office with a body temperature of 109.8 degrees.

The other dog, Phantom, died after falling from the 17th floor into an empty elevator shaft at around 9:30 at night on May 21, 2009. According to a report obtained by the Crime Commission, the dog’s body was removed by officers the next morning.

Prosecutor laughs during Tiara Davis hearing

sparkyThe assistant district attorney prosecuting the case against Tiara Davis, accused of beating her Pomeranian on the elevator at a New York City housing project, broke into laughter in the courtroom yesterday.

While reading Davis’ statement about how she beat the dog, Assistant District Attorney Steven Constantiner began chuckling, the New York Daily News reported.

“He was laughing and had to turn away because he couldn’t control the laughter,” said, Stacy Schneider, a Legal Aid lawyer representing Davis. “I didn’t see any humor in the statement.”

Davis, 31, is charged with beating a 9-pound Pomeranian named Sparky into unconsciousness in an elevator at the Grant Houses in Manhattan. Police quoted her as saying: “It wasn’t like I was killing him or anything like that. I mean I wasn’t gonna really hurt him.”

Constantiner started laughing when he was reading part of Davis’ statement that described the dog relieving itself in the elevator.

“The assistant district attorney laughed briefly and unexpectedly while reading to the court the vulgarities the defendant used in her statement to police,” acknowledged Erin Duggan, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office. Constantiner declined comment.

Davis, a vocational counselor, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor animal-cruelty charges. Her lawyer denied she  made the statements to police. Davis, who has since surrendered Sparky, was caught on video beating the 4-year-old dog and was arrested by the ASPCA. She faces up to a year in jail.

Her arrest came just after another resident of the Grant Houses, Chris Grant, was charged with animal cruelty in connection with beating a dog — an incident police say was caught on the elevator surveillance cameras earlier.

PETA urges prison time in elevator cases

PETA is asking the New York  District Attorney’s office to “vigorously prosecute” Chris Grant and Tiara Davis — two residents of a city housing project that police say were caught on elevator surveillance videos abusing dogs.

“The viciousness shown in the abuse of these animals must not go unpunished,” said PETA Director Martin Mersereau. “New York residents have reason to be concerned. According to leading mental health professionals and law enforcement agencies, perpetrators of violent acts against animals are often repeat offenders who pose a serious threat to all animals, including humans.”

Grant and Davis face charges of cruelty to animals stemming from separate incidents in which they were allegedly each caught on surveillance video repeatedly kicking and violently yanking their small dogs at the Grant Housing Development in Upper Manhattan.

Grant is accused of abusing Chuvi-Duvi, a 12-pound Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix belonging to his girlfriend; Davis is charged with jerking and beating Sparky, her 9-pound Pomeranian, until it lost consciousness.

PETA is asking that the defendants, if convicted, be sentenced to periods of incarceration, prohibited from owning or harboring animals, and ordered to undergo thorough psychological evaluations followed by mandatory counseling.

More dog abuse in housing project elevator

A New York City woman has been charged after police say she was caught on video kicking and jerking her Pomeranian on an elevator in the same housing project where surveillance cameras captured a dog being beaten earlier this month.

Tiara Davis was charged with torturing and injuring an animal Monday. The incident was recorded by video cameras in the elevators of the Grant Houses Sunday morning. Police released the videos Tuesday.

The video shows Sparky, her 4-year-old Pomeranian, being beaten and jerked by its leash until unconscious.

Davis, 31, said she lost her temper when the dog relieved himself before getting outside.

“I kept telling him, ‘Sparky! Wait! Wait!’ ” Davis, a vocational counselor for ex-offenders, told the New York Daily News. “I became a little frustrated,” she added. “It was never my intention to hurt him.”

Sparky is recovering at the ASPCA hospital.

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