K9 with U.S. Border Patrol gets hero's send-off after years of service

A U.S. Border Patrol K9 based in Orlando has reached the end of her watch, and thanks to a national non-profit, she will be given a send-off worthy of her service.

At 15 years old, "Frankie" had served as a certified narcotics and concealed human detection canine with the Border Patrol. Throughout her career, she also assisted the Orlando Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office with 125 drug seizures. K9 Frankie sniffed out marijuana, cocaine, and meth among other narcotics.

After retirement, Frankie moved to Conroe, Texas to live out her remaining years with her handler and his family. In addition to her old age, K9 Frankie suffered from numerous medical issues, and her handler made the tough decision to put her down on Thursday. Frankie’s end-of-life services are being fully covered by Project K9 Hero.

According to Jason Johnson, founder and CEO of Project K9 Hero, the non-profit, which started in 2016, provides financial assistance to local, state, and federal service K9s after they retire.

"Their job is difficult; They work in the heat, they work at checkpoints, they search cars endlessly, these dogs work tirelessly," Johnson said. "They’re so driven and dedicated to the safety of our country. I would thank her for it, and my way of being able to do that now is to put her in Project K9 Hero as member # 259… make sure that stories like this are being told… of her recognition of service, and make sure that she gets the end of life and end of duty ceremonies that she well deserves."

Johnson said they currently have more than 700 applications for assistance. The organization is committed to taking on a new K9 each week of the year, and Frankie’s story stuck out, Johnson said.

"We wanted to make sure Frankie was honored for her service that she did for our government, and I didn’t want to see her not get the recognition, not get the bills paid," Johnson said. "Not only are we going to pay the end of duty services, the cremation, and all that, but every hero in our program gets a portrait. We have a staff artist; we do a custom portrait… and that’s for the handler and their family to keep forever and cherish."

For more information, visit the Project K9 Hero website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.