NBC Connecticut spoke to a man who says his dog was injured at a Naugatuck training facility. He says his pup came back underweight, with burn marks and sores, and had to be rushed to the vet.
The owner and a former employee of Black Rock Canines now face unrelated animal abuse charges.
Nick Perugini bought Scout from Black Rock Canines in 2020. About a year later, he brought her back for a boarding training session that lasted about 20 days.
He says he visited during that time and noticed some cuts on her feet and other issues, and when he asked about it, he was told it was nothing to worry about.
By the time he picked Scout up, he says she had lost about ten pounds, and when he took her to the vet, he was told it looked like an electric collar was left on for so long and at such a high setting that it left her with burns.
“Her throat was the size of a baseball,” said Perugini.
A throat swollen, red, and raw. Sores all over and a double ear infection. That’s what Perugini says his black lab, Scout, looked like after just a few weeks at Black Rock Canines.
Earlier this week, local and state animal control officers seized 31 dogs at the dog training facility after the owner, David Rivera, and former general manager, Daniel Luna, were arrested on several charges, including animal cruelty.
Police accused Black Rock Canines of abusing dogs and killing at least ten of them. Court documents note that authorities received several calls from previous customers about their dogs going there for training only to come back with injuries, adding, “One individual reported that their canine went there for training and had to be put down and was offered a puppy as payment.”
“I feel terrible for everybody that lost their dogs and had it much worse than I did or Scout did,” said Perugini.
Perugini filed a complaint with Naugatuck police in June of 2021, which was turned over to the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control division. The state agency’s report says Rivera and Luna told them they were away when Scout was boarded and trained and that another employee “… put a bark collar on Scout and that [Rivera] would ensure that it would not happen again.”
According to the report, the department also told the men “…that food cannot be withheld as a means of training,” which is what the report says Perugini was told to explain Scout’s weight loss.
An inspection of the commercial kennel and training facility resulted in warning notices for cages being too small and water not being provided at all times.
An officer asked to see kennels in the back portion of the property which held dogs owned by Black Rock Canines but was denied. The officer declined to see the dogs brought out one by one “… since all the dogs located inside the main building appeared to be in good health and condition.”
A follow-up inspection about two months later found all previous violations corrected and no additional violations found. The case was closed.
Perugini says after Scout went to the vet, he reached out to Rivera to get reimbursed for training and vet bills but only got reimbursed for the training.
Scout, who is now two years old, has healed physically but Perugini says she has separation anxiety.
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Perugini says he’s frustrated about what happened, but is glad Scout is okay.
“She’s probably one of the most friendly dogs you’ll ever meet. She wants to give everyone hugs and kisses. Luckily, she’s still really sweet and has a great personality,” said Perugini.
Perugini said his message is he wants pet owners to be careful with whom they entrust their pets to and to do as much research as possible.
NBC Connecticut did reach out to Black Rock Canines but calls went unanswered and their website and Facebook are inaccessible. NBC Connecticut also reached out to Rivera’s attorney but has not heard back.