Under cloudy skies, Kim Sill unloaded supplies into the back of her white SUV in a quiet Thousand Oaks neighborhood, one of the few stops she would make to bring in pet food and other articles to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
That hike took her to the home of nurse Lisa Pisani, director of the cardiovascular service line at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center.
Pisani and his wife, also a nurse, have three dogs they adopted from Shelter Hope – and four they foster for the rescue. The couple worked long hours and were unable to afford pet food. They also hadn’t been able to find what became a hot commodity during the outbreak: toilet paper.
When she learned the medical professionals needed more than pet food, Sill scoured several stores until she found the precious paper for them.
Shelter Hope Pet Shop was founded by former actress Sill to find homes for dogs and cats – and get them out of shelters. The non-profit, volunteer-based organization features shelter animals available for adoption. Merchandise sales help pay the rescue bills.
The sound of little dogs barking excitedly didn’t stop when Sill placed food and other items on the porch with handmade signs reading “Thank You” and “Stay Safe.”
The novel coronavirus outbreak has impacted Shelter Hope Pet Shop in many ways. “Obviously the volunteers are down to almost zero,” Sill said. “Most of our volunteers are over 55 or in a high-risk category that won’t let them help. It’s okay, we want them to be safe.
There are currently 78 dogs and 12 cats in the system, Sill said. This is a higher number than usual as the pandemic prevents many adoptions.
During normal operations, people who raise animals collect food for them at the rescue. Today, Sill and other volunteers bring food and other necessities to homes.
“People are afraid to go out, so I have to pack food,” Sill said. “It is essential that we give food to our dogs.”
It’s not just Shelter Hope’s rescue dogs that can receive food deliveries. Sill says the Chow on Wheels “is for anyone who needs help right now.”
Among Sill’s current boarders is a small 7-year-old corgi mix with a heart murmur. His owner’s family turned the dog over to the store when his owner was sent to hospital with a respiratory problem. It turned out to be COVID-19.
“She’s been in the hospital for a month, hanging on,” Sill said. “Every week I get a text from her or someone using her phone, checking on the dog. I’m in tears. No, those are good tears. It’s someone who loves their dog.
Back on the porch, the mutts — Wilson, Jake, Lola, Petey, Bella, Bun Bun, and Mongo — continued their high-pitched barking serenade behind a large window.
Pisani drew the curtains so Sill could say hello to the pack of elderly, vocal dogs.
There would be no ear rubbing or back scratching today, however. Pooches should wait for things to return to pre-virus rules.
Pisani, a nurse who loves dogs, spends her days helping people and her nights helping canines.
This help goes both ways, however. “The best thing I could ask for after a long day is to come home and spend some time with them,” Pisani said. “They offer solace to your soul.”
Sill said his separate goodbyes through the window – with a wave and a kiss. At the next stop.