Home K-9 dog, Rivan, dies at Virginia prison after helping save inmate, officer
Public Safety, Virginia

K-9 dog, Rivan, dies at Virginia prison after helping save inmate, officer

rivan k9 dog sussex state prison
Submitted photo

A K-9 dog assigned to the Sussex I State Prison in Sussex COunty was killed on Tuesday after inmates repeatedly stabbed and kicked the dog, named Rivan.

According to the Virginia Department of Corrections, three inmates allegedly affiliated with the MS-13 gang attacked another inmate in one of the facility’s housing units. A fourth inmate supervised the assault.

Corrections Officer Kharmishia Phillip Fields and Rivan responded to the attack.

Rivan was violently and repeatedly stabbed and kicked by the inmates.

Lifesaving measures were performed on Rivan but the dog died, ending his watch at the state prison.

The officer, Phillip Fields, a trained K-9 handler and a four-year veteran of the department, sustained no serious injuries.

Order was restored by responding officers with the help of Rivan.

The attacked inmate was transported to a local hospital for injuries sustained in the attack and was later returned to the facility.

The inmates involved in the  attack are from El Salvador and Guatemala and at least three are verified members of the MS-13 gang, according to VADOC. The inmates are incarcerated for several charges, including first-degree homicide, attempted rape, kidnapping/abduction, malicious wounding, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, child pornography, grand larceny and possession of a Schedule III drug.

The Virginia Department of Corrections intends to pursue prosecution of these inmates to the fullest extent of the law.

“The safety of our corrections team is our agency’s top priority,” said VADOC Director Chad Dotson. “Officer Phillip Fields has the agency’s full support during this difficult time, and I personally wish her well in her recovery. The heroics she displayed during this brutal assault demonstrate her courage, her commitment to public safety, and her care for the safety of the inmate population.”

Dotson said that Rivan’s death is tragic but said the K-9 dog did not die in vain.

“He (Rivan) lost his life while potentially saving the lives of two people, his assigned officer and an inmate,” said Dotson. “The VADOC will never forget Rivan’s sacrifice.”

Rivan, a Belgian Malinois, would have turned 6 on April 30. He joined the VADOC in 2019 and was certified in July 2019. Rivan came from a K-9 family with a strong public-safety tradition. His father worked for a police department in Southwest Virginia and his mother worked for the U.S. Secret Service.

The VADOC will hold a memorial service for Rivan at a later date. No details are available at this time.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.