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Former Bissell Centre executive becomes new CEO of Edmonton Humane Society

A photo of the Edmonton Humane Society facility taken on Jan. 24, 2019.
A photo of the Edmonton Humane Society facility taken on Jan. 24, 2019. Global News

The Edmonton Humane Society announced Tuesday that its board of directors has appointed the former executive of a local anti-poverty group as its new chief executive officer.

Liza Sunley, who was previously the chief operating officer of the Bissell Centre, takes over as the EHS’ CEO six months after the organization confirmed its previous CEO had resigned.

“There is enormous opportunity for EHS and we couldn’t be happier that Liza is joining our team,” EHS board chair Summer Bradko said in a news release. “As we look to the future, we are confident she will guide our dedicated employees and nearly 1,400 volunteers to realize our significant potential and help us become even more effective at what we do best: caring for animals.”

Sunley also previously served as executive director of Lorena Shelter, a women’s emergency shelter.

“We are confident that Liza’s leadership will position us for greater success with key stakeholders and help us achieve our vision to be a model of excellence in the advancement of animal welfare,” Bradko said.

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The EHS’ CEO position was left vacant after Miranda Jordan-Smith resigned last year. A spokesperson for the charity said Jordan-Smith left to pursue new opportunities.

Jordan-Smith had been the subject of a petition calling for her suspension after an incident in 2018 in which the EHS said three cats were “unknowingly left” in a vehicle for three weeks.

The EHS said the cats all survived and have since been adopted out to families.

READ MORE: Edmonton Humane Society CEO resigns in wake of cat neglect incident at shelter

Watch below: (From September 2018) The Edmonton Humane Society confirmed on Friday that its CEO has resigned from her position. Sarah Kraus has the latest.

CEO of Edmonton Humane Society resigns in wake of cat neglect incident at shelter
CEO of Edmonton Humane Society resigns in wake of cat neglect incident at shelter

Sunley takes over the job as EHS’ role is changing. In January, the organization said it would no longer take on the responsibility of enforcing the Animal Protection Act and cited safety concerns as the reason behind the decision.

“Our animal protection employees are put in unsafe situations every day, including seizures from drug houses and situations that they are not well-positioned to respond to,” Bradko told Global News in January.

“Enforcement activities are police-like activities that involve search and seizure and going into high-risk situations that necessitate carrying weapons and going into court,” she added. “That’s not what we’re best positioned to do.

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“We believe those activities should be carried out by experts in the field with training in law enforcement.”

The announcement of Sunley’s appointment came on the same day that Edmonton City Council voted to approve a proposed plan for how the city should take on an enforcement role with regard to animal welfare cases.

READ MORE: Report proposes City of Edmonton create animal protection unit consisting of 4 officers

(From Jan. 30, 2019) The Edmonton Humane Society recently announced it would no longer be enforcing the Animal Protection Act and now the city says it will take over those duties, at least temporarily. Vinesh Pratap reports.

City to take over enforcement from Edmonton Humane Society
City to take over enforcement from Edmonton Humane Society

Sunley will officially begin serving as CEO on March 27, the EHS said.