Remembering Ruby: Trooper Hero K-9 went from animal shelter to saving boy’s life with state police

Ruby was a beloved K-9 trooper with the Rhode Island State Police, but she didn’t always work with them. Ruby was once an exuberant rescuer who was in and out of the shelter — fired five times by five different families, her longtime handler, Corporal Daniel O’Neil, told CBS News.

“She was deemed unadoptable, due to her high energy and she was just plain unmanageable,” O’Neil said. “[The shelter workers] I looked at her and saw she had a ton of energy that just needed to be focused and maybe put to work.”

Corporal Daniel O’Neil believes he and Ruby were destined to be paired up when she joined the Rhode Island State Police.

Daniel O’Neil/Rhode Island State Police

They contacted the state police, who wanted to give Ruby a second chance and decided to try her out as a search and rescue dog. O’Neil was chosen to be his master.

“We were kind of parallel. Because when I was younger I was a bit of a mess. I couldn’t concentrate and I wasn’t good at school. But nobody ever told me. really given up. They said, ‘Hey, he’s a hard worker and he can really make a difference,’ he said. “And I think that’s what they saw in Ruby and that’s why we were meant to be together.”

A normal dog could be trained in a few months. For Ruby, it took a year and a half, but O’Neil didn’t want to give it up. Finally, in 2011, she was a certified K-9 soldier. Six years later, she has become even more than that: a heroine.

Before dying of cancer in 2022, Ruby received many honors for her heroic rescue of a missing boy.

Rhode Island State Police

“We received a call from the Glocester Police Department that there was a missing boy,” O’Neil said. “And we just got out and started looking.”

About eight hours into their search, Ruby fled from O’Neil down a hill.

“I looked over the hill and saw a pair of boots on the ground, and there was a young boy lying face down and he hit his head and he had a huge laceration on his head and he was all stiff and looked like he was dead,” O’Neil recalled.

“You know, as a father, I was emotional. But as a soldier and a manager and the love I had for Ruby, I was so happy, because she had done exactly what I had trained her to do. to do over the past six years,” he said.

The boy was in critical condition and Ruby saved his life. O’Neil went to tell his mother that he had been found alive and told her that a K-9 soldier had helped save his son. It was then that they made a chance connection. The boy’s mother once worked at an animal shelter.

“And she goes, ‘Yeah, there was a dog in 2011, who I absolutely adored, who I heard became a state trooper a few years ago,'” O’Neil said. . “And I said, ‘What?'”

The mother told O’Neil her name was Pat Inman and the dog she remembered from the shelter was named Ruby. “I loved her, she was the sweetest thing,” she told him.

“I said, are you kidding? said O’Neil. “And I said, ‘Pat, that dog that you helped all those times get adopted and then become a soldier, just saved your son’s life. And of course she starts crying, and then I start crying.”

After Ruby saved the boy’s life, his mother, Pat Inman, realized they had a chance connection. Inman knew Ruby when she was at the animal shelter years earlier.

Rhode Island State Police

Ruby has been honored for her hard work – winning the American Humane Hero Dog Award in 2018, appearing on the cover of Rhode Island Monthly magazine, and being celebrated by state troopers. But sadly, Ruby was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in May 2022.

Prior to her passing, a Netflix film about her titled “Rescued by Ruby” premiered. Ruby’s story will live on and continue to inspire countless people.

“She was the poster child for shelter dogs. I hope she’s a symbol for shelter dogs who, hey, just because they’re in a shelter doesn’t mean they are bad dogs,” O’Neil said. “They just need a chance, they just need your patience, they just need your compassion and your love, and they really can change the world.”

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