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Iota man arrested on livestock theft charges

June 4, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said an Iota man was charged with livestock theft after a working quarterhorse reported dead three years ago was found alive and returned to its rightful owner.
Strain said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Livestock Brand Commission Officer Johnny Steib arrested Luke James Bouget, 27, 130 Tulip Road, Iota, on livestock theft charges.
Horse owner John Dupre of Bueche sent the horse, a dark buckskin named Beau Gin, to a training barn in Branch used by Bouget, in June 2006.
Dupre said he was told of the horse’s death by Beau Gin’s trainer, Jon Vaughns, in July 2006. Vaughns rented stall space at the Bouget barn.
Vaughns said Bouget told him of Beau Gin’s death during an equine event at an area horse arena. Investigators say that Bouget allegedly lied to Vaughns about the horse’s death and sold Beau Gin and another horse to a Kaplan horseman for $1500.
Three years later, ownership of Beau Gin had changed twice, but Dupre learned that the horse was still alive and had been seen at the Bouget barn.
Brand Commissioner Officer Steib said Beau Gin was easy to identify by people who knew the horse because of its distinctive markings.  
“The horse is a dark, dirty buckskin color and does not blend into a group,” Steib said. “It also has a larger than average head.”
The horse was recovered, identified and returned to Dupre’s barn in West Baton Rouge Parish in May 2009. Bouget was arrested on May 13.
Strain said though the horse was identified because of its distinctive markings, that it is best to microchip livestock to make identification easier.
“Your local veterinarian can microchip your horse and there will be no problem identifying if it is stolen or accidentally mixed with other horses,” Strain said. “Branding your horse with your registered brand or a lip tattoo is another good form of identification.”
Strain thanked the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Wayne Melancon for their cooperation during the three-month investigation.
“We’re very appreciative of Sheriff Melancon,” Strain said. “Our Livestock Brand Commission officers rely on the assistance of local law enforcement and we’re grateful.”
Strain advised residents to call the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry agriculture theft hotline at 800-558-9741 to report any crime involving livestock or timber theft or other agricultural-related crime.