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Pet owners celebrate PetSmart's opening in north Barrie

Pinnacle Nutrition cave, an area that features and highlights the all-natural and higher-protein pet foods

The dog days of summer arrived this weekend in north Barrie.

PetSmart celebrated the grand opening of its second Barrie store, a 17,000-square-foot store that includes a Pinnacle Nutrition cave, an area that features and highlights the all-natural, higher-protein pet foods.

And that came as good news for some Barrie pet owners.

“We’d always go to the south end. We had to stock up on food and if they didn’t have it, we’d have to order it online,” said Ricky Lalonde, who buys Only Natural Pet food for his Golden Retriever, Molly.

The high-in-demand premium food was often sold out at the south Barrie store, located on Mapleview Drive West.

“It was a bit of a pain,” he said.

PetSmart’s Barrie North store manager Deb Farrelly said more pet parents are choosing higher-quality foods for their pets, because they know it pays dividends in their pet’s health

“The Only Natural Pet food is freeze-dried and air-dried raw dog food. They use no antibiotic fed cows and only free-range chickens. It’s something new to PetSmart,” she said.

“Pet parents are really concerned about their pet’s health.  I just rescued bull dog and she was severely malnourished. She had no fur and so many food allergies. By using my knowledge and this product, she’s bounced back to health.”

In the plans for a year and the result of three months of renovation of the space once occupied by a Goodwill thrift store, the new Barrie North PetSmart is a full-service store that offers a pet training area, a pet grooming salon and a pet adoption centre.

“Here is a specialty store, with services, the grooming and adoptions and you can feel it and touch (what you’re buying for your pet),” said Farrelly, who is excited to have the Pinnacle Nutrition area, a new feature PetSmart is offering.

Barrie residents, however, can continue to find cats and dogs, and even a rabbit, to adopt, as the store continues the PetSmart Charities programs, which include partnering with OSPCAs and rescue groups, as well as the “Buy a Bag, Give a Meal” program.

PetSmart customers helped provide 12 million pounds of food so far, and PetSmart district manager Kent Griffin projects the program will provide 60 million meals to hungry animals across North America.

But there’s appreciation closer to home, for the pet owners who lined up waiting for the grand opening Saturday.

“We’ve been waiting. Going to the south end is a pain,” added Ken Brown, who took his 10-week Roddy pup Anika to the celebration.