Shelter Dog Turned K-9 Hero

Shelter Dog Turned K-9 Hero

October 4, 2022 by By Cathy Stack

A beloved K-9 police dog named Ruby earned fame for her incredible rescue of a young Rhode Island boy.

A rambunctious rescue, shelter staff had considered Ruby unadoptable and unmanageable due to her high energy. Five different families returned her to the shelter before she finally found her home with the Rhode Island State Police Department and ended up proving just how special she really was. 

Her long-time handler, Corporal Daniel O’Neil, felt a kinship with Ruby and saw some of himself in her. He knew she needed a task to focus her energy.

The shelter workers intuitively knew the local police search and rescue department would be a great fit for Ruby, where officers would make great use of her intelligence and kinetic energy. They reached out to the state police, who agreed to give Ruby a chance, and Daniel became her handler.

“We were kind of parallel. Because when I was younger, I was kind of a mess. I couldn't focus and I wasn't good at school. But no one ever gave up on me. They said, ‘Hey, he's a hard worker and he can really make a difference,’” said Daniel.

He believes that he and Ruby were destined to work together.

Daniel trained Ruby for a year and a half – much longer than others – but he never gave up on her. In 2011, Ruby became a certified K-9 trooper. Six years later, she earned hero status for her incredible rescue of a local missing boy.

“We got a call from Gloucester Police Department stating there was a missing boy,” Daniel recalled of the day of Ruby’s heroic rescue. “And we just went out and started searching.”

Hours into their search, Ruby bolted away from the group and ran down a hill. Daniel followed Ruby down the hill and saw her bending over the missing boy on the ground. The boy had hit his head and suffered a large laceration. First responders transported the boy to the hospital in critical condition.

“You know, as a father, I was emotional. But as a trooper and a handler – and the love I had for Ruby – I was so happy, because she had done exactly what I had trained her to do for the last six years," said Daniel.

Daniel notified the boy’s mother, Pat Inman, that they had found her son alive. He later described to her how the department’s K-9 trooper had located her son.

Pat shared with Daniel that she had once worked at the local animal shelter, and she remembered one rescue there who had become a police dog. She said the dog’s name was Ruby. “I loved her, she was the sweetest thing," Pat told Daniel.

He was shocked when he realized the serendipitous connection.

“Pat, that dog that you helped just saved your son's life,” Daniel told Pat.

Both cried at the incredible coincidence.

Ruby won the American Humane Hero Dog Award in 2018 and appeared on the cover of Rhode Island Monthly magazine. Netflix has also memorialized her story with a movie called “Rescued by Ruby.”

Ruby sadly passed away from cancer in 2022 but not before proving her value. Her story continues to inspire, and the people she touched personally will never forget her.

The Foundation for a Better Life and PassItOn believe that Ruby was a hero. She is a symbol for how special and loyal shelter dogs can be. How with the right patience, care and compassion, they can accomplish amazing things with and for their human partners.

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Your Comments
DPetersen from Iowa OCTOBER 4, 2022
Neat story

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