Conn. officer shot and buried dogs at his K-9 training business, warrant says

A suspended officer and his employee are accused of killing at least 10 dogs they didn’t think could be sold or trained

By Suzie Ziegler 

NAUGATUCK, Conn. — A Connecticut police officer who runs a K-9 training business on the side is accused of shooting and burying dogs he didn’t think could be trained adequately, the CT Post reported on Tuesday. New Canaan Officer David Rivera Jr. and Daniel Luna, the manager of Black Rock Canines, are now facing a slew of animal abuse charges, according to court documents. 

Rivera, 34, surrendered on Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. The warrant alleges that Rivera and Luna killed at least 10 dogs they believed couldn’t be sold or trained and buried them on the property. Black Rock Canines trains dogs for law enforcement agencies and private citizens, according to the report. Luna was working as a K-9 trainer at the facility. 

Court documents allege a disturbing pattern of animal abuse, including one employee who said Luna shot dogs while they were being fed. The employee said the dog dishes sometimes contained bullet holes and were also buried on the property. 

“The allegations outlined in these affidavits are not only illegal but also disheartening,” said Colin McAllister, Naugatuck Chief of Police, at a news conference Tuesday. “As a police agency with three successful working K-9s that serve our community to their highest capacity, we are appalled at the treatment that other dogs of the same caliber were given while under the care of Black Rock Canines.” 

The remains of four dogs were found on the property, FOX 61 reported. Police moved 31 dogs from Black Rock Canines to animal care facilities as the case proceeds.

Rivera was suspended from his job as a New Canaan police K-9 handler last week when he was arrested on charges related to illegally possessing and storing explosives at his home. The explosives were used to train sniffer dogs, according to the report. One employee said she had helped transport dogs and explosives to a downtown event center for bomb-sniffing training. The four-story building was usually filled with other people, she said. The warrant said Rivera had no permit for possessing the explosives, according to FOX 61

“Any explosives that aren’t stored correctly is a concern for us and obviously someone who’s not licensed to have them is also a concern," said Sgt. Sean Connelly of the Connecticut State Police Bomb Squad. 

Rivera is charged with conspiracy to commit animal cruelty, first-degree reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit euthanization of a canine. Luna, a former police K-9 handler from Texas, is charged with four counts of animal cruelty, four counts of conspiracy to commit animal cruelty, one count of first-degree reckless endangerment, four counts of conspiracy to commit euthanization of a canine and third-degree identity theft. 

Rivera’s own K-9 has been removed from his care. 

“[K-9 Apollo] is healthy, happy and looking forward to continuing his career with our department,” said New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski. 

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