PetSmart hires former SPCA manager after resignation
Liana Maloney said she’s still helping animals at the new retail store, which adopts out pets from Northern Animal Rescue
The manager of the Prince Albert SPCA has resigned her position, citing differences of “vision” with the organization’s board.
Liana Maloney, who has run the dayto-day operations of the animal shelter for about two years, is now working as second in command at the new PetSmart at Cornerstone. The location celebrated its grand opening on Saturday.
Maloney said she resigned as SPCA operations manager in early September. She said the decision was her own. Maloney was hesitant to share her specific grievances, for fear of starting a “dust up” with the shelter’s board.
“I just think the board was going in a different direction than I personally wanted to go,” she said. “This was a place I thought was a better fit for me right now.”
A large contingent of former SPCA staff joined her in the move to PetSmart, including a couple of experienced groomers from the shelter.
Kathleen Howell, vice president of the SPCA’s board, said they’ve hired Debbie Kellett of Frontrunner Footwear to take over on a temporary basis. The shelter also brought on new staff and promoted others to fill the gap left by the departures to PetSmart.
“The staff, honestly, has been amazing,” Howell said. “It’s been such a smooth transition because of how incredibly hard the staff has worked and the dedication that they’ve shown. It’s blown the mind of Debbie and every board member. I can’t praise them enough.”
Howell said she wasn’t aware of any differences of vision between Maloney and the board.
“The board’s vision has always been to work with the community to elevate the SPCA and do the best we can for the city, and I think that was her vision as well,” she said.
PARTNERSHIP WITH RESCUE NEW WAY TO HELP ANIMALS: MALONEY
The new PetSmart location’s manager, Michael Murphy, said the company is in the midst of an expansion. Prince Albert is their 129th store in Canada, and they’re hoping to hit 200 by the end of 2018. Market research showed that a lot of shoppers at the company’s Saskatoon store come from Prince Albert.
“That was the next obvious place,” he said.
Murphy has hired 22 local residents, and all of them were out on the floor for the grand opening. He’s happy to have Maloney as his assistant team leader. But he insists that he didn’t poach her from the shelter.
“She switched over and came to us,” he said. “PetSmart’s a big opportunity.”
Mayor Greg Dionne, Councillor Dennis Ogrodnick and MP Randy Hoback dropped by for the ribbon cutting Saturday morning. About 100 people cycled through during the first half hour of business, Murphy said.
The busy morning was a boon for Northern Animal Rescue, which is using the shop to adopt out its animals. By 9:30, all of the cats they brought south from La Ronge were spoken for.
Logan Fiske, a board member with the rescue organization, said it’s their first big partnership with a pet store.
“It’s awesome for us to bring our cats here, because we don’t have anywhere to take our cats from the north,” she said. “With PetSmart, now we have a cat room. All of the cats in the adoption centre are ours.”
She said Northern Animal Rescue is dealing with an especially busy year. They plan to bring in about 10 cats per week, and will soon start sending dogs to the shop as well.
Murphy said PetSmart doesn’t make any money off those adoptions.
“We don’t sell cats and dogs; we adopt them out,” he said. “All the money goes back to the rescue. Petsmart charities give $10 for every adoption back to that rescue. So we’re about saving lives.”
All the animals are spayed and neutered. They get a vet check-up and vaccines, and prospective owners go through a screening process. With that kind of system, Maloney feels right at home.
“I still can work with helping animals,” she said. “Any animal we can get into a home is just a positive thing, no matter what location you’re out of.”
The work of Northern Animal Rescue helps address pet overpopulation, and Maloney said their impact extends as far south as Prince Albert.
“I think it’s fantastic we’re looking after the northern animals,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for a group that wouldn’t normally have it… Now there’s a home for their cats, and we all know how many cats come into the city from the north.”
It’s not her first time working in pet retail, and she feels like her SPCA experience will be an asset for the company. In the end, she’s drawing on the same passion she’s had throughout her career.
“I think it’s just about placing animals and doing the right thing,” she said.
“To see people make really good bonds with animals is fantastic.”
“It’s been such a smooth transition because of how incredibly hard the staff has worked and the dedication that they’ve shown. Kathleen Howell
Liana Maloney stands with PetSmart’s mascot, chance, during the store’s grand opening on Saturday.