New Canaan police officer facing more charges in animal cruelty case

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By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — A New Canaan police officer was arrested again on additional animal cruelty charges.

David Rivera Jr. of Stratford, owner of Black Rock Canine training facility on 100 Hunters Mountain Road, turned himself in on Saturday on a $20,000 warrant for his arrest for malicious wounding/killing of an animal. The charges come from the original investigation into the dog training facility in May after an additional report of animal abuse was made, according to a Naugatuck police press release issued on Monday.

For this charge, an owner of a dog claims that it was injured and abused after it had been in the care of Rivera’s facility in 2021, the press release states.

Rivera is scheduled to appear at Waterbury Superior Court on August 25.

Daniel Luna of Waterbury, the general manager of the dog facility and Rivera turned themselves in May after a joint investigation by Naugatuck and Stratford police, state police and the state Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control Unit that alleges animal cruelty and the storage of illegal explosives.

David Rivera Jr. Contributed

Rivera Jr. was charged with conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals, first-degree reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit euthanization of a canine. He was released after posting a $150,000 bond.

Luna was charged with four counts of cruelty to animals, four counts of conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals, first-degree reckless endangerment, four counts of unlawful euthanization of a canine, four counts of conspiracy to commit euthanization of a canine and third-degree identity theft. He was held on a $225,000 bond

Police allege numerous German shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Labrador retrievers were abused and injured at Black Rock Canines. Employees euthanized 10 dogs with a firearm and borough detectives uncovered the remains of four, Naugatuck police previously said.

Naugatuck police assisted state, federal and Stratford police with the execution of a search-and-seizure warrant at Black Rock Canines on April 26. Based upon investigators’ observations at the scene, Naugatuck police obtained a separate search-and-seizure warrant, which led to the seizure of evidence directly related to the allegations of animal cruelty and abuse.

Naugatuck detectives’ investigative efforts found Luna had abused numerous puppies and dogs, McAllister said.

Witnesses also stated Luna’s lack of adequate care led to the death of puppies that had been left exposed to harsh weather, police allege.

Naugatuck detectives obtained an additional search-and-seizure warrant at Black Rock Canines in May for state and local animal control officers to remove the remaining 31 dogs housed at the business and place them in a shelter.

Naugatuck PIO Danielle Durette said she was unsure if the facility has shuttered but the businesses’ sign was removed from the building when visited Monday.

Witnesses also reported military-grade explosives were unlawfully stored on the property, police allege.

Employees, who lacked training for explosives, were directed on numerous occasions to remove explosives from the storage location at Black Rock Canines and transport them to the Naugatuck Event Center for canine training inside the building, police previously said.

Borough police detectives have continued to investigate additional reports made in regards to the training facility and Rivera to close the investigation, according to press release.