The owner of Black Rock Canines in Naugatuck has turned himself in and is facing an additional animal cruelty charge in connection to an ongoing investigation surrounding animal abuse allegations at his business.
Police said David Rivera Jr. turned himself in over the weekend on a $20,000 warrant for his arrest on a charge of malicious wounding/killing of an animal. The charge stems from the original investigation into his business after authorities said an additional report of animal abuse was made.
According to investigators, in this instance, a dog owner said their dog was injured and abused after the dog had been in the care of Rivera's training facility in 2021.
In May, multiple people, including Rivera Jr., were accused of abusing and killing at least 10 dogs at the facility on Hunters Mountain Road.
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Police said Rivera Jr. is a sworn New Canaan police officer and owns Black Rock Canines. Investigators said the business is a training facility for potential military and police canines as well as for privately owned canines by people seeking such training.
Naugatuck police initiated their own investigation earlier this year and through interviews, it is believed that numerous canines of all ages and breeds have been abused and injured during their time at the facility.
Investigators said they believe at least 10 canines were killed by employees of the business. The dogs are believed to have been shot and killed and then buried on the property by the owner or operators of the business. State police said they have found the remains of four dogs there.
A manager of the business is one of the people who is facing charges in connection to the investigation. Authorities said Daniel Luna is accused of abusing numerous dogs and puppies during his employment. He is accused of shooting dogs that were no longer viable to the business and is also accused of leaving puppies outside in harsh weather elements leading to their death.
In May, police said they obtained an additional warrant, which allowed state and local animal control officers to remove the remaining 31 dogs at Black Rock Canines. The dogs have been placed in a shelter and will remain there as the investigation continues. The dogs that were seized from the facility are not expected to be available for adoption in the near future and are considered to be evidence in the investigation.
Rivera Jr. was previously arrested after explosives were found at his Stratford home, according to the Fairfield state’s attorney. In May, Rivera Jr. was charged with illegal possession of explosives, illegal storage of explosives, illegal possession of an assault weapon, illegal storage of a firearm and three counts of improper transfer of a firearm, according to Fairfield state’s attorney Joseph Corradino.
The state’s attorney said Rivera Jr. is alleged to have used the explosives in his business training working dogs for various organizations and the warrant states that he had no permit for the possession of the high explosives and also had an assault weapon.
New Canaan police said Rivera has been placed on leave and is currently prohibited from serving as an active duty officer. The police department said he'll remain on leave pending the results of the criminal case and the internal investigation.
Rivera Jr. is expected to appear in court on August 25 for the malicious wounding/killing of an animal charge.