SLAIN POLICE OFFICER’S WIDOW HELPS CREATE K-9 FIRST-AID TRAINING
Law enforcement officers and military personnel are receiving valuable K-9 first aid training thanks to a collaboration between Frankie’s Friends and the widow of Tampa Police Department Cpl. Mike Roberts.
Cpl. Roberts, who was killed in the line of duty in 2009, was a handler for the department’s K-9 unit. He always wanted to start a first-aid course for handlers to identify and deal quickly with their K-9 partners’ health issues. So when his widow, Cindy Roberts, was awarded a grant from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Heroes program, she gave part of the money to Frankie’s Friends to develop the course.
Officers bring their own K-9 partners to the class, so they can have hands-on experience and learn to conduct physical exams, recognize the signs of bloat and heat exhaustion, move an injured animal safely, and provide initial wound care.
“This kind of training is so valuable to the K-9 handlers,” Cindy said. “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 first class was held in May in Tampa and has subsequently been offered at MacDill AFB and elsewhere.
Class size is limited to six to eight officers to provide maximum one-on-one time with the trainers, who are veterinarians and certified veterinary technicians, learning physical exam and handling techniques.
The training was developed by Dr. John Gicking, a board-certified emergency and critical care veterinarian with BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, and Nicole Rudd, CVT, a veterinary technology instructor at Hillsborough Community College in Pampa at the time the training was developed. Volunteer veterinarians and veterinary technicians serve as instructors.
The goal is to now take the offering to other cities around the US in which Frankie’s Friends is active. Each course costs about $750 to provide free of charge. Donations are welcome! Click here if you would like to support this program!