PetSmart hires former SPCA manager after resignation

Liana Maloney stands with PetSmart's mascot, Chance, on the day of the new store's grand opening. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

Liana Maloney said she’s still helping animals at the new retail store, which adopts out dogs and cats 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 day-to-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 Debbi 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 Debbi 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.

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 people, 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.”

For more on this story, see the Tuesday, October 31 print or e-edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.