Widow of slain Tampa police officer creates K-9 first aid course

TAMPA, Fla.  – Nine-year-old Adam Roberts has very few memories of his father, a Tampa police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2009. But he’ll never forget the time his dad visited his preschool class to perform a K-9 demonstration.

“That sealed it,” said Cindy Roberts, Adam’s mother and the widow of Tampa Cpl. Mike Roberts. “Adam knew from that moment on that he wanted to be a K-9 handler, just like his dad.”

Cindy Roberts said her late husband loved being a K-9 handler, a position he held with the Tampa Police Department for many years before being promoted to corporal. So when she was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Heroes program, she gave part of the money to Frankie’s Friends charitable pet foundation to develop a K-9 first aid course.

“This kind of training is so valuable to the K-9 handlers,” said Cindy Roberts. “The dogs are their partners, and they want to do everything they can to ensure their safety. Even learning to treat a basic wound will help reduce the amount of time the dog will be in pain.”

The course will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Tampa, 3000 Busch Lake Blvd.  Officers and K-9s from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, MacDill Air Force base and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office are expected to attend.

The first aid training will be taught by Dr. John Gicking, a board-certified critical and emergency care veterinarian with BluePearl, and Nicole Rudd, a veterinary technology instructor at Hillsborough Community College. Topics will include

  • How to conduct physical exams
  • Recognizing the signs of bloat, heat exhaustion and heatstroke
  • Understanding puncture and bite wounds
  • Moving an injured animal
  • Initial wound care and bandaging


Space is limited to seven officers and their dogs for this initial class. Additional classes are being scheduled to accommodate demand and will include law enforcement, military and search and rescue dogs.