THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – At Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks, the angry and threatening calls keep coming.
“Get out of our psycho country,” said a man who did not leave his name. Emails by the thousands also block the inbox. All because owner Kim Sill asks this question on the pet adoption application: “How do you feel about gun control?”
Sill says, “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to ask people what they think about gun control. I think it’s good to know what your neighbors think.”
The problems started when Kim sent out a newsletter supporting gun control and announced that her private rescue shelter would stop adopting animals to anyone who opposes gun restrictions.
“I believe you have to be 25 before you are allowed to buy a gun, I believe a mental health check is necessary,” she said. Sill says responsible gun owners wouldn’t necessarily have a problem adopting a pet from his store, but NRA members aren’t allowed.
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“We’re a dog shelter, we’re a nonprofit, we get to choose who gets these dogs,” Sill says.
Trial attorney Rachel Fiset says Sill is not breaking the law by refusing to allow NRA members to adopt her rescues.
“Members of the NRA are not a protected class, they do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or gender and it is something they are allowed to do under the law and it is his way of expressing himself,” says Fiset.
The reason Sill is so committed to gun control is because her sister Michelle was shot and killed. Additionally, Sill briefly met the man who carried out the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill.
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“A few months before he killed all those people at the Borderline Bar and Grill, he came here for a few hours of community service,” Sill said. “It didn’t work out in the end because he was unwilling to follow the rules.”
Despite all the nasty messages, Sill says she’s not backing down. She says: “When what happened with Uvalde, I said ‘Okay, if I can do one little thing in my little world of animal rescue, it will be to say what I feel and that’s what I feel. Do something!’ ”