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Former CT police officer sentenced in animal cruelty case involving dog training facility

A former New Canaan police officer has been sentenced to prison for illegally storing dangerous explosives at his Stratford home and in connection with allegations that 10 dogs were shot and killed at a dog training facility he owned in Naugatuck.

David Rivera, 36, faced sentencing Monday in Waterbury Superior Court for the second time in a week in connection with the wide-ranging accusations, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records.

During the proceeding, a judge sentenced him to two years in prison and three years of probation after he took a plea bargain in April that required pleas to charges of first-degree maliciously wounding or killing an animal and first-degree reckless endangerment, court records show.

The sentencing Monday came after Rivera appeared last Wednesday in Bridgeport Superior Court, where a judge handed down a sentence that included two years in prison and five years of probation. That sentence came after he pleaded to charges of illegal possession of explosives and illegally receiving or purchasing a long gun, records show.

According to the Connecticut Department of Correction, Rivera’s prison terms will run concurrently for a total effective sentence of two years behind bars.

Rivera was first arrested by members of the Stratford Police Department in April 2022 after local, state and federal authorities searched Rivera’s Stratford home and reported finding 10 pounds of C-4, along with TNT, blasting caps and “other highly volatile and dangerous explosives,” officials said at the time. Rivera had no permits for the explosives, according to authorities.

Arrest warrant describes cache of explosives, grisly scenes of animal cruelty at police officer’s Naugatuck dog training business

Rivera was initially suspended as a police officer before later resigning from the New Canaan Police Department. He also owned Black Rock Canines, a dog training facility in Naugatuck where authorities said he used the explosives to train police dogs how to detect them, according to an arrest warrant affidavit in the case.

Teenage employees of the facility were reportedly transporting the high-grade explosives in Tupperware containers before Rivera, upon being warned about the dangers involved, assured an employee at Black Rock Canines that he had taken the explosives to his home in Stratford, the warrant affidavit said.

Upon being made aware of allegations of animal abuse, police dug up four dogs that former employees said had been shot and killed by Daniel Luna, a trainer at Black Rock, the warrant affidavit said. Luna allegedly told workers that “useless” dogs were “going to Mexico,” according to the warrant affidavit.

Workers reportedly told state animal control officers that 10 dogs were shot and killed at the facility.

Another employee told investigators that dogs were poorly cared for and inhumanely treated, which included animals being whipped and hit with metal pipes during training sessions, the warrant affidavit said.

Suspended police officer who ran dog training facility arrested on additional animal abuse charges in Naugatuck

One worker said he saw videos taken by other employees showing dogs with blood dripping from their heads, whip marks, scars and burn marks, according to the warrant affidavit.

In November 2021, a worker told police that after a Dutch shepherd at the training facility was ready to give birth, Luna failed to provide heat for the puppies and several froze to death, the warrant affidavit said.

Luna is free on a $75,000 bond while he faces numerous charges of maliciously killing or wounding an animal, conspiracy and related offenses, court records show. He is scheduled to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on Wednesday.


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