FRONT ROYAL – A Warren County man wants the local humane society to return his animals taken by the Sheriff’s Office in December.
Daniel C. Kim, of Cindy’s Way, Front Royal, filed a warrant in Warren County General District Court claiming the Humane Society and the Sheriff’s Office continue to unlawfully hold several dogs seized by law enforcement. A district court judge dismissed his claim. Kim, represented by attorney David Silek, appealed the decision to the circuit court Thursday. A hearing is scheduled in the circuit court May 22.
Silek filed a motion Friday in the Warren County Circuit Court asking a judge to vacate the judgment made in the lower court granting custody of the animals to the Humane Society. Silek contends in court filings that authorities violated Kim’s rights by moving forward with the process to take the animals, despite his client suffering from a mental disability at the time. Silek has stated in a court filing that Kim, a U.S. Armed Forces veteran, suffers from schizophrenia.
“This is the walking wounded amongst us,” Silek said by phone about his client. “He’s a veteran who the military health care system is not helping.”
Authorities appeared to have taken advantage of Kim and his mental health problems, Silek said.
“I think the sheriff’s department had to know what was occurring or was going on and they used their knowledge in a manner that was not fair,” Silek said.
Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy L.L. Gomez filed a petition in the general district court for a hearing to seize Kim’s animals. The petition lists the animals, all approximately 4 months old, as two male black cats, an orange-and-white tabby male, a malamute, a shepherd and a golden retriever.
Kim was taken into custody Dec. 22 under an emergency custody order, then later held under a temporary detention order, according to the petition. There was no family living locally available to take care of the six animals, the petition notes.
“All animals appear healthy,” Gomez states in the petition. “Deputies who took Daniel Kim into custody provided information that the area where the animals were being kept was covered in feces and did not appear the dogs had been let outside in some time.”
Gomez requested that the court grant custody of the animals to the Humane Society. Gomez states that this was the second time in three weeks law enforcement had to take the animals to the Humane Society. The previous times occurred Dec. 13 and 15, according to the petition. A judge dismissed a civil seizure petition related to the Dec. 13 matter, court records show.
A district court judge granted the deputy’s seizure request at a hearing Jan. 9. Kim filed unlawful detainers March 19 against the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Warren County Humane Society seeking the return of his animals. Kim claimed the Humane Society unjustly held his three dogs – a German shepherd, a golden retriever and an Alaskan malamute, all puppies.
Kim notes in his civil complaint the three puppies are each valued at $25,000.
Front Royal attorney J. Daniel Pond III filed a motion dated April 2 on behalf of the Humane Society asking that the court dismiss Kim’s complaints. Pond points out that the court granted custody of the three dogs to the Humane Society. Kim then had 10 days from Jan. 9 to appeal the court’s ruling granting custody of the animals to the organization. Pond states that Kim did not file an appeal within 10 days and thus the court order became final.
“The animals in question are no longer the lawful property of Mr. Kim and he therefore lacks standing to bring this suit,” Pond states.
Silek states in his motion to vacate the lower court’s judgment that Gomez had notice Kim was a person under disability once his client was held under the temporary custody order.
“Despite such actual notice and knowledge of the disability of Kim, Gomez still attempted service of process of the proceeding to be held on January 9, 2019, on Kim by posting at his residence, without mailing him a notice of such hearing,” Silek states. “Such notice is both ineffective and void.”
Silek goes on to state his client was held at a mental health treatment facility in Augusta County and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office sent a faxed copy of the petition for the seizure hearing to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office for service on Kim. Silek’s motion indicates that the petition could not be served on Kim at the hospital.
Silek states that Gomez did not seek the appointment of a guardian to represent Kim in the proceeding as entitled by law. Silek claims in the motion that Gomez had Kim’s companion animals transferred to the Humane Society without due process of law.
At the April 4 hearing in Warren County General District Court for Kim’s complaints, substitute Judge James Drown heard that Kim did not appear for the Jan. 9 hearing because he was hospitalized.