A Monday morning call to SFPD regarding, in the words of the Taraval Station newsletter, “a man with a gun making threats” led to the discovery of a disturbing story of animal cruelty, allegedly at the hands of a man said to be fostering a puppy for a local rescue agency.


Photo of “Bam” from the Copper’s Dream site.

Three officers were called to an apartment building on the 100 block of Kenwood at 3:30 Monday morning, where they were told by a resident of the building that their neighbors’ dog “had been crying as if in pain throughout the night.” She told the officers that she’d tried talking to the man they believed was the dog’s guardian, a 28-year-old man named Jong Soo Kim, who allegedly told her that “he had a gun and would use it.”

The officers were let into the apartment by Kim’s roommate, and discovered that Kim had written on his doorway “Leave me alone. P.S. I have a gun for self defense and I am insane.” The officers were able to safely talk Kim out of his room and detain him, seizing the man’s Ruger 45.

According to SFPD spokesperson Officer Samson Chan, one of the officers then discovered an 11-week old German Shepherd puppy confined in a bathtub behind the sliding glass shower doors. When asked what was going on with the dog, which the officers say was soaking wet, Kim reportedly told police that he had been pouring hot water on the dog when he “was bad” to “teach him a lesson.”

Kim reportedly told the officers that he had been fostering the puppy for Copper’s Dream animal rescue for about a week, as part of a mass rescue from a Bakersfield animal shelter.

Lee Kuhn, Director and Foster Coordinator for Copper’s Dream, says that they’re still confused by what exactly went on. She says that, contrary to what Kim reportedly told police, he was not fostering the dog for them, his roommate, a man named Peter Venter, was. (The Appeal was not able to reach Venter for comment on this story.)

He had been pouring hot water on the dog when he “was bad” to “teach him a lesson.”“Peter told me that his roommate would yell at the dog, and that that bothered their neighbor, but he has no idea where the claims of animal cruelty came about. I’ve never even met Mr. Kim — Peter just put down on his foster application that he had a roommate who was OK with the situation.”

So Peter never told you that his roommate was caring for the dog? “No, no. He seemed like a very caring, responsible guy.”

Kuhn says that Venter told her a very different story regarding how Bam ended up stuck in the shower. “Peter says that Bam pooped and stepped in it, and that his roommate was washing him off.” She seemed nonplussed* was silent for several seconds then said she did not know what to say when we read her what Kim reportedly told the police regarding the use of hot water for disciplinary purposes.

Kim, who, according to reports from several folks I talked to when reporting this story seemed “very disturbed” and “demonstrably mentally ill,” was placed on 5150 hold (the name for the detention given to those believed by medical professionals to be mentally ill enough to pose a threat to himself or others) after his arrest.

DA’s office spokesperson ADA Brian Buckelew says that they are “determined to move forward on this case” and that Kim will appear in court to receive misdemeanor charges for animal cruelty and for the threats he made to his neighbor. Each charge has a maximum sentence of one year, that is, if he’s determined mentally competent to stand trial.

Bam is expected to be evaluated by Animal Care and Control, then returned to Copper’s Dream. Jill Leiva, Copper’s Dream Director and Volunteer/Marketing Coordinator says that, given his recent experience, Bam will not go back into foster, but will remain with one of the employees of the rescue organization until he’s adopted.

“One of the officers I talked to asked me how we could have placed Bam in that apartment” said Kuhn. “What you have to understand is that we can’t possibly do home checks for every foster — no rescue organization does.”

According to Lt. Brown, an officer with the ACC, “I don’t think they had any control over what the guy would do, but, you know, things happen.”

Rocket Dog Rescue Vice President and occasional Appeal contributor Laura Beck agrees with Brown, saying “Yeah, things do happen, rescue is very fast paced and hectic.” She cautions, however, “we all need to be really careful about where our dogs go.”

Levia says that this is the first incident of this nature since Copper’s Dream was established in January, 2009. “We’ve rescued over 200 animals” she said “and we’re just devastated that this could happen. I hope it doesn’t hurt us.”

*Kuhn asked that we not use the word “nonplussed” to describe her reaction, as she feared that people would take the word, which means “to be at a loss as to what to say, think, or do,” to mean that she was “unaffected” by the news. It’s been replaced with an exact description of her reaction.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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