PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) – A Rhode Island dog whose inspiring story of going from a shelter dog to life-saving police K-9 became the subject of a recent Netflix movie has been euthanized.
State police said on Sunday that K-9 Ruby was put down on Friday after suffering a “sudden, acute and untreatable illness.” She was 11 years old.
Colonel Darnell Weaver, Superintendent of the State Police, expressed his gratitude for K-9 Ruby’s years of service.
“K-9 Ruby dedicated her life to serving the people of Rhode Island and making a positive impact on everyone she ever interacted with,” he said in a statement. “She became a symbol of hope for all shelter dogs and showed the world what a shelter dog can do when she’s just given love and the chance to shine.”
Ruby served 11 years with the Rhode Island State Police and was treated by Cpl. Daniel O’Neil, Weaver said.
Part Australian Shepherd and part Border Collie, Ruby was one of the first shelter dogs trained to serve with the Rhode Island State Police. She has participated in numerous search and rescue missions and has performed extensively in public throughout her career.
Ruby rose to fame in 2017 when she found a teenage boy seriously injured while walking in the woods. The boy turned out to be the son of the animal shelter volunteer who had fought to keep her from being euthanized.
“She was a total knucklehead,” shelter volunteer and dog trainer Patricia Inman had told The Associated Press of Ruby, who had been sent back by five families for being too rambunctious before O’Neil adopted the then eight-month-old child in 2011.
Ruby received national recognition for the rescue — the American Humane Hero Dog organization named her the country’s “Search and Rescue Dog of the Year” — and her story was made into the 2022 Netflix film “Rescued by Ruby.”
“She had a full, happy, and wonderful life, not just as a soldier, but as part of a loving family,” Weaver said. “She worked to the end and never gave up doing what she loved most – making people laugh.”
Ruby lived with O’Neil and his family and will be honored privately, police said.
“She was given an opportunity and she did everything she could to repay it,” O’Neil said earlier this year. “You have this dog that was given up, and she changed the lives of so many people.”
Despite her acclaimed search-and-rescue career, Ruby’s mischievous spirit was unstoppable: Three years ago, she shot near a state park, where she turned up safe and sound after a 19-hour search. More recently, she came back from a bathroom break with a live skunk squirming — and spraying — in her jaws.
The antics were part of what made Ruby, well, Ruby. Most of all, she was a good dog.
“If you show them love and compassion and give them a certain kind of stability, they will show their true nature,” O’Neil had said.