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Pet of the Year

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Slain K-9 officer gets state award
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Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office Lt. Kyle Luker, right, holds the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association Pet of the Year Award given Saturday to the late K-9 officer Sgt. Boco. Boco was nominated for the statewide award by Ruston veterinarian Marion Sewell, left.

LAFAYETTE — Slain Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s K-9 officer Sgt. Boco has been named the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association’s Pet of the Year.

The award was given Saturday during the LVMA’s winter meeting. Boco is believed to be the first Lincoln Parish recipient of the LVMA award.

He died Aug. 17, 2018, from gunshot wounds sustained while protecting his fellow officers during a manhunt. The six-year-old Belgian Malinois had been with the LPSO almost three years.

“By his courage, skill and loyal devotion to duty, and in keeping with the highest standards of law enforcement, Boco reflected great credit to himself and upheld the highest traditions of the LPSO,” said Ruston veterinarian Marion Sewell, who nominated Boco for the award.

Every year, the LVMA honors an animal that performed an extraordinary action, such as saving its owner’s life, helping the owner overcome overwhelming odds, or rendering exceptional public service.

“Boco exemplified all of the characteristics we were looking for,” Sewell said.

She said Boco’s story touches everyone who hears it.

“We’re just very humbled by the fact that is a statewide recognition,” LPSO spokesman Chief Deputy Stephen Williams said. “It’s very fitting for Boco.”

Boco is credited with saving his handler Lt. Kyle Luker’s life, as well as the lives of other deputies.

In August 2017, Luker was shot while conducting a traffic stop. While Luker was still fighting with the suspect, he was able to remotely release Boco from his patrol car.

Boco engaged the suspect, giving Luker time to draw and fire his own weapon.

“Without a doubt, Boco saved his partner’s life,” Sewell said.

Then came the August 2018 manhunt. The incident began on Aug. 17 in Monroe when Vincent D. Roberson, of Monroe, fled after shooting his girlfriend. Roberson reportedly ditched his truck that evening behind a residence on Chandler Road, in a rural area of east Lincoln Parish and ran into the woods.

That’s when Boco was sent in to aid in the search.

Shortly afterwards, deputies heard a volley of gunfire but couldn’t find Boco. Though Roberson was caught several hours later, deputies continued to look for Boco.

They found his body about 3:45 a.m. Aug. 18.

Roberson is charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal.

LVMA member Shannon Landry said as she listened to the awards presentation, she realized she’d known Boco.

“When I heard ‘Boco,’ I thought ‘I do remember that dog,’” Landry said.

Landry now practices in New Orleans but formerly worked at a Ruston veterinary clinic. She treated Boco for a dewclaw injury.

“He was very high spirited,” she said. “He had an indelible footprint in my memory.”

Boco’s receiving the award is “wonderful,” Landry said. “It just goes to show the levels of skills these dogs have and that they’re necessary to the job.”

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