This story stirs the dog: “Rescued by Ruby” tells the story of K-9
NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI – This is the story of a mischievous dog who turned out to be a very good girl. Such a nice girl, in fact, that she saved a life.
Ruby, an Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix, ended up in a Rhode Island animal shelter as a puppy due to ongoing behavioral issues. Five families took turns adopting her, only for each to return her as she was too rambunctious.
Enter the State Police Corporal. Daniel O’Neil, who needed a search and rescue dog. In 2011, he was taken by the irrepressible energy and intelligence of an eight-month-old Ruby, and after Inman vouched for her, she was trained as a K-9 police officer.
Fast forward to October 2017, when this story takes an incredible turn: a teenager got lost for 36 hours on a hike, and Ruby succeeded where a human search party failed – she found the boy , who was unconscious and in serious medical condition. He turned out to be Inman’s son.
“Rescued by Ruby,” premiering March 17 on Netflix, tells the story of a problematic dog who just needed another hit.
“Ruby had a chance at life and ended up saving a life,” the American Humane Hero Dog organization said in a 2018 citation naming her “Search and Rescue Dog of the Year.”
In another twist, Ruby is played by a canine actor, Bear, another former shelter dog who was saved by the film’s dog trainers from being put down.
“It’s a real underdog story,” O’Neil, 41, said in an interview at his Rhode Island State Police office, where he now oversees an 18-dog K-9 unit. .
“It’s like divine intervention. She was given a chance and she did everything she could to pay it back,” he said. “You have this dog that was abandoned, and she changed so many people’s lives.”
O’Neil knew that adopting a shelter dog labeled as unmanageable was a gamble. Police dogs are usually bred for their job and trained from birth. Most State Police K-9s are $7,500 and come from Europe.
But O’Neil remembers being impressed with Ruby’s determination and focus, and she graduated at the top of her class. And as someone with dyslexia and hyperactivity, he identified with Ruby.
“We both know where each other is coming from,” he said.
The afternoon of the boy’s rescue, Ruby led O’Neil directly to the teenager, who had fallen into a ravine. O’Neil’s radio and GPS were out of range, but Ruby’s repeated barking drew authorities to the scene. The youngster, who has since recovered, declined to be interviewed.
When O’Neil knocked on the door of the boy’s house to tell him the good news, he came face to face with Inman: “I said, ‘Pat, that was her, thank you for saving him life – she saved your boy’s life.’ And we both started crying.”
Later, as it all went downhill, Inman wondered: What if?
What if O’Neil hadn’t tried his luck? What if Ruby had been shot?
“I was so grateful. I was beside myself and overwhelmed,” she said. “So many things had to fall into place for this to happen. The universe works in mysterious ways. “
O’Neil, who stars in “The Flash” actor Grant Gustin’s Netflix film, said he hopes people will consider adopting a shelter dog.
“If you show them love and compassion and give them some kind of stability, they’ll show their true colors,” he said.
Partners for 11 years, O’Neil and Ruby have been associated with numerous successful rescues and helped convict two murderers based on evidence Ruby sniffed out. They also shared difficult days: in 2020, a drunk driver rammed their cruiser. Ruby escaped unscathed; O’Neil broke five ribs.
Highlighting the dangers of the job, Massachusetts last month enacted a new law allowing first responders to treat police dogs injured in the line of duty. “Nero’s Law” was named for the Yarmouth Police Sgt.’s K-9 partner. Sean Gannon, shot and killed in 2018 while serving an arrest warrant. Nero was also shot, but state law did not allow paramedics to treat him. He has recovered and now lives with Gannon’s widow.
Meanwhile, Ruby being Ruby, there are still occasional mishaps.
Three years ago, she ran away near a state park, prompting a 19-hour search before turning up safe and sound. More recently, after O’Neil let her out to relieve herself, she returned with a living skunk writhing – and pulverizing – in her jaws.
“We should have known. Ruby is a homegrown girl, not a Hollywood celebrity,” wrote Rhode Island Monthly, which featured Ruby and O’Neil in a cover story for its “Rhode Islanders of the Year” edition. “She represents something real and beautiful: we can achieve great things no matter where we start in life.”