THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Officer hailed as he waits to deploy

Stellar K-9 officer off to Afghanistan

Officer George Boggs and his K-9 partner, Peggy, were honored yesterday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their work in recovering firearms. Officer George Boggs and his K-9 partner, Peggy, were honored yesterday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their work in recovering firearms. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / February 12, 2011

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Instead of spending Valentine’s Day at some cozy restaurant with his girlfriend of two years, George Boggs, a veteran Boston police K-9 officer, will be shipping out Monday to an Army base in Texas to prepare for a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan. He will be called on to monitor security at a camp that has been the target of suicide bombings recently.

“It’s bad timing, but I have a job to do, a duty with the government, and I will fulfill my requirement,’’ said Boggs, a major with the Army National Guard.

Yesterday afternoon, Boggs and his faithful K-9 partner, Peggy, were honored for their work in recovering firearms.

Boggs received a certificate of appreciation from Guy N. Thomas, head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Boston, and a recognition of service from Police Commissioner Edward Davis. The ceremony was attended by 14 other K-9 officers and agents from the ATF.

The ATF has had a long relationship with Boston police. Since undergoing training as a K-9 officer in 2007, Boggs and his dog have recovered five firearms and more than 50 rounds of ammunition. “Those are five firearms that would have been without a doubt used in violent crime,’’ Thomas said.

“I feel honored to receive this recognition,’’ Boggs said. “I work hard. I want to make a difference. When I show up at calls, I do the best I can.’’

Boggs and Peggy, a yellow Labrador retriever trained to sniff out firearms and ballistics evidence, have a reputation for working slowly. Boggs, 46, joined the Army National Guard in 1984 and was eligible for retirement in 2004. He said he probably will retire after he returns from Afghanistan. He joined the Boston Police Department in 1986.

“George is a very diligent K-9 handler, very methodical,’’ said Troy Caisey, the head K-9 trainer for the Police Department. “He’ll do a lengthy search and may stick around after other officers have left. A few times, it’s been hugely productive. He’s found firearms, once in a parking garage in Roxbury an hour after everyone left and another time, also in Roxbury, he found a firearm hidden in a wall.’’

Boggs’s mother, Nettie Boggs, sat along a wall during the ceremony, her face beaming with pride as her son received the certificate. His girlfriend, Vanessa Barboza, said she will keep in touch with him through the Internet.

“I don’t think there’s any good day to see a loved one or family deployed, but it’s very admirable what he’s doing for his country,’’ Barboza said. “I guess we’ll just have to wait until the next Valentine’s Day.’’

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.