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To improve the lives of the animals in our care, be timely and compassionate in our responses, educate the public through community outreach and, provide for the health and safety of the citizens and animals of Ventura County.

Leadership Team


Tara Diller, Director

Tara Diller is a self-described "data junkie" and a fierce animal advocate. She has a strong passion for changing the face of municipal shelters and is committed to doing that right here in Ventura County. She recently relocated to Southern California from Sacramento and was the Division Manager for Sacramento County Animal Care.

Tara is the Secretary for California Animal Control Directors Association (CACDA), a Board that is dedicated to providing leadership, training, and development, support and advocacy to animal care and control agencies. Tara has also worked as a Best Practice Consultant for Animal Shelters recommending best practices to help increase live release rates by implementing industry standards proven to save more lives, enrich the lives of animals in the shelters, improve employee morale, recommend programs and tools to emphasize officer safety, implement innovative programs to reduce animal intake by creating pet retention programs, recommend the utilization of software systems to develop streamlined workflow efficiencies, develop community partnerships with veterinarians to offer free/low-cost spay neuter programs and focus on improving community relations.

Tara firmly believes in innovative sheltering practices such as Community Cats, also known as Trap Neuter Return (TNR), shelter playgroups, pit bull education, shelter enrichments and in-house rehabilitation, bringing the shelter to the community to increase awareness, transparency and creating unlikely community partnerships. She is a proud mom to a student at UC Davis studying to be a Clinical Psychologist and is a Student Assistant at the UC Davis MIND institute researching Autism. Tara has two Chihuahua's, an American Pit Bull Terrier mix and a diabetic cat. Her husband and daughter are her biggest supporters and advocates and share her passion of saving lives. During her free time, Tara enjoys studying industry best practices, reading good books, going to the beach, and spending time with her husband and pets.

Donna Gillesby, Deputy Director

Biography coming soon...


Heather Skogerson, DVM, Veterinary

I received my undergraduate degree at University of Nevada Reno. I received my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Colorado State University. While Ballard was always my home town, I grew up traveling across the United States and two countries with my family. I started my career in veterinary medicine as a large animal intern at a surgical referral facility in Reno. I switched to small animal medicine when my son came along. I then practiced small animal medicine in Carson City, Nevada for eight years before moving back to my home town of Ballard, CA. I am on the Board of Directors for the Animal Rescue Team, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility in Solvang, CA. I came to VCAS in November of 2012. Shelter Medicine was new to me so I spent every free moment reading everything I could so that I could do the best for the animals under my care. Shelter medicine now has become a burning passion for me. I still spend time educating myself every day on new and improved information for the care and medicine of shelter animals. I am currently taking graduate courses through the University of Florida for a Graduate Certificate in Veterinary Forensic Science to assist law enforcement officers with animal cruelty investigations. In my free time, I enjoy outdoor activities; stand up paddling, hiking, and biking to Spudnuts with my son. I enjoy traveling to Baja relaxing on the beach and motorcycle riding.
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Virgina Hearn, Kennel Supervisor

I am the kennel supervisor and have worked for VCAS for 10 years. Growing up, my passion has always been animals. From working in the kennels, some field work, Statistical Officer, and now Kennel supervisor. I started the shelter's first free roaming chicken clan with my rooster the General. I have enjoyed being part of positive changes throughout our department and look forward to future improvements. My favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to foster bottle baby kittens. This opportunity allows me to watch them grow to their adoptable age and then be placed in their forever homes......priceless. 

 Bryan Bray, Supervising Animal Control Officer (Field Operations)

Bryan joined our team in 2005, as an animal control officer I, working in the kennels. He is a lifelong Ventura County resident. Over the years he has serviced our department in several capacities. Some of his duties included, investigating nuisance complaints, assisting in training staff, and acting as the department safety officer. For many years he has been the department's Emergency Volunteer Response Team coordinator. He coordinates emergency response with partnering agencies, volunteers, and has coordinated animal evacuations throughout the years. Bryan is currently the field operations supervisor and has oversight of services performed in the contract cities. In addition, he also oversees the administrative citation program with the individual cities, and coordinates licensing programs. He also developed and supervises the department's license ambassador team. 
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Aaron Ortega, Senior Animal Control Officer/Kennel Operations

Aaron joined the department in 2010. In 2014 he created the shelter’s first ever Enrichment Program model, which continues to thrive and evolve to this day. Aaron is a firm spay/neuter advocate and believes in public outreach and education to increase responsible pet ownership. Aaron, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps has deployed to Japan, Guam, Trinidad & Tobago, Australia, and Thailand, as well as many National bases assisting with the training of foreign military personnel, and DEA operations. He is married with 3 children, and enjoys running, boxing, concerts, and watching reality T.V. A self-proclaimed ‘Chiwizzle Enthusiast’, Aaron has a pet Chihuahua named ‘The Beef’.
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Randy Friedman, Media & Marketing Manager

Randy Friedman joined Ventura County Animal Services (VCAS) in 2012 as a volunteer and became the shelter's first Marketing Manager shortly thereafter. Randy's long career in science, education, technology and digital media made him an excellent candidate to create a strong Media Department for an organization that was transitioning to no-kill. Keeping positive, both in-person and online, is very important to him. He knows that you attract more bees (or followers) with honey rather than with vinegar. In addition to his official role, Randy supervises business interns from two local universities, helps organize staff BBQs and staff bonding activitiesHe has lived in a variety of locations such as Israel, Washington D.C., and in the picturesque mountains of San Jacinto where he was the Master Teacher at an outdoor space and science facility.

After a long day of feeding the Social Media machine, broadcasting live on Periscope and creating fundraising campaigns, Randy enjoys mountain biking, wood burning and telescope viewing. He looks forward to the day when his job will no longer be needed and every healthy, adoptable animal has found their forever home.

 Marilyn Baca – Lead Communications, Office Assistant IV

Marilyn Baca is a native California, moving to Ventura County in 1979. She joined Ventura County Animal Services in 1980 as an officer in the kennel, then moving into a position as a field officer. In 1986 she transitioned into the communications center. She is currently the Lead Communications Officer working under the watchful eyes of office cats, Lola and Murry. Marilyn has four shelter-adopted cats: Papa, Kaytee, Bug and Emmitt. 
Sandra Ropes

Sandra Ropes - Assistant to Director and Deputy Director

Sandra joined Ventura County Animal Services in 2013 as an Office Assistant. In June of 2015 she moved to the administration office. She is married and has a daughter. Sandra and her husband are passionate about rescuing. “Adopt Don’t Shop” is their motto. All of their pets have come from shelters. She has two big German Shepherds at home named Boris & Natasha and two Siamese cats named Makua & Makena.