Animal rescue group helps pet owners affected by pandemic

A local woman who runs a pet rescue in Thousand Oaks is helping people and animals impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kim Sill is the founder of Shelter Hope Pet Shop, a nonprofit, where she finds homes for dogs and cats to get them out of shelters. Since the pandemic, she's started delivering free essential items and pet food to people who foster her dogs, healthcare workers, seniors, and people in need. 

"It makes me feel glad that we're able to do this. It's obviously a time that none of us ever thought we'd be in, a pandemic. We are dog rescuers, and this is unprecedented. Wearing masks, wearing gloves, always staying away from people that are helping these animals, it's been difficult," said Sill. 

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On Thursday, Sill prepared a care package delivery for Holly Gentle, a single mom who is now out of work as a massage therapist because of coronavirus. 

"I'm unable to work so anything helps. Every little bit helps to have extra food for the dog and the cat, it's always a good thing. It means the world to me," said Gentle. 

Sill and her team of volunteers pack their cars with all kinds of supplies from masks to toilet paper. They have a few seniors on their list for delivery.

"The seniors, they love their dogs but they just can't get the things that their dogs need," said Christina Hackett, a volunteer.

Hackett is one of the volunteers who help care for healthcare workers' pets while they're working the front lines. Sill believes it's important to help fulfill the needs of medical personnel at this time. 

"It's heartbreaking to know that these people that are helping so many people have to go home after a 12, 13, 14-hour shift and not even have things to help themselves," said Sill. 

The team is also doing several house calls now. 

"We just make sure that we put on booties on our shoes, and we've got a mask on, gloves on and we're clean when we go in the house, and take care of the dog with no risk to the foster parent," said Hackett.

Sill said they receive dozens of calls each day now. 

"We're getting about 30 calls a day that we wouldn't normally get, calls from people in our community that need help with food, dog walking, with other supplies, with vetting," said Sill. 

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Sill normally has 100 volunteers, but is down to 12 because of the pandemic. Sill said the rescue has more animals coming in now because other local shelters are closed, and some people decided they can no longer properly care for their pets because of the pandemic. 

"Right now, we have about 100 dogs in our care. Many of the dogs have come in over the last few weeks because of the COVID-19 situation," said Sill. 

Sill is still working with people who foster dogs and delivers pet food to their homes because they can't come to the shop. Kathie Lester has worked with Sill for years, fostering animals. 

"Kim has to do the delivering of the food [to houses because of the pandemic]. We can't do the adoptions in the shop so a lot of it is just remote and is done via text, email so that part of it is a lot different, but it's doable," said Lester. 

Sill is based in Thousand Oaks, but said her team is willing to travel to help anyone with a pet impacted by the pandemic. 

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Sill said people in need can contact her team at or call 805-379-3538.