black rock canines

New Canaan Police Officer Surrenders Animals, Warrant Reveals More Animal Abuse Complaints

David Rivera Jr. agreed to surrender the ownership of 31 dogs to the state and to not possess any animals while he’s out on bond.

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Naugatuck Police continue to get complaints from customers of Black Rock Canines training facility, according to a newly released search and seizure warrant.

In it, a Naugatuck Police Department detective said since David Rivera Jr.’s arrest has been publicized in the media, he has received numerous phone calls from folks, each with their own stories of bringing their canine for training only to get them back with injuries, scars and changed behavior.

“The amount of complaints has provided some insight into a business rifled with abuse and neglect allegations," the detective writes.

He writes, one person reported that their canine went for training and had to be put down and they were offered a puppy as a payment.

Rivera, a New Canaan police officer put on leave pending the results of this case, has been arrested on animal cruelty, explosive and weapons charges, too.

Rivera stood in front of a judge once again Wednesday.

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This time, he agreed to surrender the ownership of 31 dogs to the state and to not possess any animals while he’s out on bond, as his animal abuse case makes its way through the court system.

Investigators said they believe at least 10 canines were killed at his training facility for dogs and police and military canines, too, among other abuse allegations.

The seized dogs are currently getting care in Lisbon. Naugatuck Police wants the public to know they are not up for adoption.

Members of Desmond’s Army, an animal advocacy group, said they attend way too many animal cruelty cases in Connecticut. They made sure to be in the courtroom in support of the animals.

“We’re probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg, and we probably will never know the extent of the cruelty that’s happened here,” said Linda Pleva, vice president of the organization, which hopes justice is served for all dogs in this case.

“I think the general opinion is that Connecticut is pretty lenient, so there’s always those concerns, but the fact that he no longer has possession of those dogs was a critical point and we’re very happy that they’ve been surrendered,” Pleva said.

Rivera has pled not guilty to the weapons and explosive charges against him, but has not yet entered a plea in the animal cruelty case.

NBC Connecticut reached out to his lawyers for comment again Wednesday but we haven't yet heard back.

A former manager of the Black Rock Canines is also accused of similar crimes.

In that search and seizure warrant unsealed this week, police also reported finding travel passports for 20 dogs on sight who were brought to the facility from other countries.


A former employee tells police he never observed a veterinarian at the facility for the month and a half he worked there to check out dogs he knew to have been flown in from abroad. A state law requires their checkup upon arrival.

Police said no other paperwork for the pups was located.

Animal advocates said these allegations have a broader impact.

“Now we’re going to wonder, ‘Jeez, this was a pretty high-profile guy training police dogs. How are police dogs trained?’ I think there’s going to be a lot of questions regarding that and that’s going to hurt every other trainer of police dogs out there who are doing their jobs well,” Pleva said.

Desmond Army’s members remind pet owners to check, research and get references for a facility and if it’s a board and train program, ask for video of animals and if you can, visit. Strict rules may raise red flags.

“These animals are our family. You wouldn’t send your kid into daycare without checking who they are. Are they operating legally? Are they doing things correctly? And, the same goes for where we send our animals. And while he was operating legally, I would bet that there’s some interesting information out there,” Pleva said.

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