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Dog-kicking video costs chief executive his job

Joe O’Donnell, a concessionaire and a part owner of the Suffolk Downs racetrack, has apologized for the conduct of a company official after a video of the official kicking a dog went viral on the Internet.

O’Donnell is chairman of Centerplate, a Connecticut company that provides concession services to about 350 venues, including Levi’s Stadium and AT&T Park in the San Francisco Bay Area. Just over four years ago, Centerplate bought Boston Culinary Group, a company that O’Donnell founded. O’Donnell became Centerplate’s chairman.

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Locally, Centerplate Restaurant Group owns John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House, which has its flagship in Harvard Square. A 2009 Globe story said that Boston Culinary Group operated concessions at Citi Performing Arts Center, the former Bank of America Pavilion, New England Aquarium, and Harvard Stadium.

Centerplate’s Web pages listing the venues it operates in were down Wednesday.

About a week ago, a video obtained by Global News in Canada went viral showing Centerplate chief executive Desmond Hague kicking a dog in an elevator in Vancouver, British Columbia, provoking outrage among animal lovers. Hague issued an apology, agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues, and promised to donate $100,000 and 1,000 hours of community service to animal welfare.

Global News reported Hague as saying:

“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.”

But with news of the video spreading to websites in the United States and potentially threatening Centerplate’s contracts, its board of directors said Tuesday that Hague had resigned from the company and that Chris Verros had been appointed acting president and chief executive.

The decision to make a leadership change came “as a result of Hague’s personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care,” Centerplate said in a press release.

The release included a statement from O’Donnell, who 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.”

Attempts to reach O’Donnell were not successful.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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