Authorities: 10 Dogs Shot To Death, Numerous Puppies and Canines Abused at Local Police Officer’s Private Business [UPDATED]

The general manager and other workers at a Naugatuck-based canine training business owned by a New Canaan Police officer shot and killed least 10 dogs there, officials say. Placed on leave last week after police in his hometown of Stratford brought an initial set of charges that included felony charges of illegal use and possession of explosives, Officer David Rivera, 34, on Monday turned himself in to Naugatuck Police on a warrant for conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals, first-degree reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit euthanization of a canine. 

Alerted last week by state and other authorities about possible animal cruelty at Black Rock Canine Training—a facility for prospective military and police dogs, as well as for privately owned canines by individuals seeking such training— Naugatuck detectives and Animal Control officers found “that numerous canines of all ages and breeds, including German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers, have been abused and injured during their time at Black Rock Canines,” according to a press release issued by Naugatuck PD. “More specifically, that at least 10 canines have been killed by employees with a firearm,” the press release said. “The canines that were shot and killed were then buried on the property by the owner/operators of the business.”

Its general manager, 33-year-old Daniel Luna of Waterbury, “had abused numerous puppies and dogs during his time of employment at Black Rock Canines facility,” the press release said. Lunda’s abuse included “the shooting of dogs which were deemed no longer viable for the business,” it said.

‘She Even Had a Bottle of Water for Me’: Letters of Appreciation for New Canaan Police

Police Chief Leon Krolikowski on Wednesday night spotlighted some of the outstanding work of the department’s officers. During the Police Commission’s regular meeting, he cited a series of letters of appreciation from the community. 

“I think it’s important to better recognize the good work of our officers which we do not do often enough,” Krolikowski said at the meeting, held in the New Canaan Police Department. 

He added: “I’m sure myself and on behalf of the Commission, we should extend our thanks to all of our officers for the work that they do. We are about to enter into budget season when we are talking about statistics and numbers and costs and some things are difficult to measure, and these letters that we get are the kinds of things we should be highlighting.”

Here are excerpts:

Officer Roy Adams

“I am writing to express my wife’s and my own thanks and gratitude to your Department and especially to your officer Adams … On July 18th at around 7:30 a.m. my wife fell in our apartment at The Inn where we reside. While unhurt, she was unable to get up on her own even with my insufficient strength to help (we are 92 and 94 years old)—911 was called. Officer Adams showed up first, took in and evaluated the situation.

New Canaan Police, Wilton Vet Aid Mead Park Snapping Turtle with Fishhook Caught in Its Mouth

New Canaan Police and a Wilton-based veterinary group this weekend worked together to ensure the safety of a large snapping turtle at Mead Pond that had a fishhook caught in its mouth. At about 12:40 p.m. on Saturday, the police department’s Animal Control section received a flurry of calls regarding a large snapping turtle in the middle of Richmond Hill Road, according to Officer Diane Apicelli. Arriving, Apicelli said she found a crowd gathering around a 33-pound snapping turtle with an 18-inch long shell. Police Officer Dave Rivera was directing motor vehicle traffic around the turtle that clearly had a fishing lure caught in its mouth, according to Apicelli, of the Animal Control section. She crated the turtle and transported the reptile to South Wilton Veterinary Group, which “has a wonderful ‘exotic animal’ veterinarian on staff,” Apicelli said.

New Canaan Police Seek Permission To Acquire Labrador Retriever As Second K-9 Dog

Saying it would bolster the town’s efforts to rid New Canaan of drugs such as heroin, police on Wednesday proposed acquiring a second K-9 dog for the department. A Labrador retriever’s work would include drug detection and tracking—much as the dog in place since last summer, Apollo the German shepherd, performs those duties and additionally is trained for patrol and apprehension—and also would boost the department’s community relations, K-9 Officer David Rivera told members of the Police Commission at their regular meeting. “A lot of times when I do demonstrations, I restrict people petting him [Apollo]— that is just me being a good handler to the town,” Rivera said at the meeting, held at NCPD headquarters. “That being said, getting Labrador retriever, all the kids would be able to pet the lab and we would be in a really great position to provide this community with something that a lot of communities do not get, and that is interaction with police officers.”

He added: “I feel we have an opportunity in working in one of the best police departments in the state of Connecticut to have the best K-9 program. What would really help with combating the heroin epidemic and drugs we see coming into the town would be the implementation of another K-9.”

The police department’s K-9 program is paid for entirely out of a private fund that’s supported by donations.