1st Routt County K-9 unit dies, leaving behind 5-year service legacy
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A former Routt County K-9 known for his success in the field died Sunday, according to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.
Seven-year-old Boomer, the first K-9 deputy for Routt County, retired from service in April 2020 after experiencing health issues. Boomer died from complications of those issues, according to Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins.
“Boomer was a great member of this agency for numerous years, and his service is greatly appreciated,” Wiggins said. “Our agency is saddened to hear of his passing.”
Born in Chotebar, Czech Republic, Boomer was paired with former Routt County Sgt. Ed Hendricks, and the two attended and graduated from K-9 academy together. Boomer, a Belgian Malinois, joined the agency in 2015.
“Boomer and his handler Ed Hendricks paved the way to the development of a professional, well-trained and successful K-9 program,” Wiggins said.
Hendricks left the Routt County Sheriff’s Office following Boomer’s retirement and joined Moffat County as a deputy.
“The community really just loved (Boomer),” Hendricks said.
Boomer had an enjoyable home life on a ranch in Hayden with handler Hendricks and his wife, who adopted him after his retirement. Being retired allowed Boomer more time with his giant ball, to swim and play with his own canine companion Mia.
Hendricks had a special tug made that was three times the size of a normal tug, which Boomer proudly carried around. Despite having the professional acknowledgment of being a ferocious canine cop, Boomer would show his sweet side playing tug with his small circle of friends.
When it came to crime though, Boomer was a stalwart professional.
As a K-9, Boomer was trained to sniff out heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy. He was an intimidating dog, particularly to those with something to hide. The two went on hundreds of deployments together in Routt County and some people landed in prison as a result of Boomer’s keen ability. Boomer loved tracking potential offenders, according to Hendricks.
Hendricks recalled a time when he and Boomer responded to a domestic violence call in Routt County and the suspect fled on foot.
“We tracked this guy into the bushes by the Yampa (River). It was a time where you just trust your dog,” Hendricks said.
He felt the suspect was close and suddenly, with Boomer on a 30-foot lead, he heard screaming from the bushes.
“(The suspect) was screaming, ‘I give up!’” Hendricks recalled. Boomer had sniffed him out.
“Boomer’s record of success resulted in strong community support, making it possible to add a second K-9 team to our organization,” Wiggins said.
That second K-9 was another Belgian Malinois named Murray, who is still with the sheriff’s office.
In early 2020, Boomer’s declining health made Wiggins realize the sheriff’s office had no clear policy about what to do when such dogs inevitably become too old or injured to stay on the force.
Wiggins described the Belgian Malinois breed as highly energetic, aggressive animals that form deep attachments to one owner and hardly anyone else. That presents a problem when they enter retirement.
In Boomer’s case, he was lucky enough to be adopted by his handler.
“I just miss my friend,” Hendricks said.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
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