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UPDATE: Hero Police K9/ Netflix Star Succumbs To “Sudden, Untreatable Illness”

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on May 17, 2022

Updated 5/16/22

Just two months after a movie based on her life premiered on Netflix, Ruby the hero police dog has passed away. According to a Facebook post from the Rhode Island State Police, K-9 Ruby was put to sleep following a “sudden, acute, and untreatable illness.”

The story of the remarkable pooch and her handler Cpl. Daniel O’Neil inspired the Netflix film, Rescued By Ruby.


Before joining the force, Ruby, an Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix, was an unruly shelter dog. She was nearly euthanized before Trooper O’Neil and a volunteer trainer took an interest in her.

She went on to become one of the first shelter dogs to serve with the Rhode Island State Police. Throughout her 11 years of faithful service, Ruby participated in numerous search-and-rescue missions. She is even credited with saving her former trainer’s son during one of these searches.


Col. Darnell Weaver, superintendent of the state police, expressed his gratitude for Ruby’s years of service, saying:

“K-9 Ruby dedicated her life to serve the citizens of Rhode Island and make a positive impact on every person she ever interacted with,” he said in a statement. “She became a symbol of hope for all shelter dogs, showing the world what a shelter dog can do when just given love and the chance to shine.”

Ruby was honored for her achievements when she became the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Award’s “Search and Rescue Dog of the Year.”

“She had a full, happy, and wonderful life, not only as a trooper, but as part of a loving family,” Weaver said. “She worked right until the end and never gave up doing what she loved most — making people smile.”

Read on to learn more about Ruby’s incredible life.

Updated 3/14/22

11 years ago, Ruby was a rambunctious shelter dog on the verge of euthanasia. She had been adopted and returned five times for her unruly behavior when Rhode Island state police Cpl. Daniel O’Neil took a chance on her.

The pair would go on to train, work, and live together, with Ruby becoming an official police K9.


“She was a total knucklehead,” shelter volunteer and dog trainer Patricia Inman said of Ruby. “She jumped and bit her leash. She wouldn’t sit or lie down. She just never stopped moving. She was special, and she needed a special person.”

Inman had no idea that the dog she trained and advocated for would come back into her life in the most incredible way: by saving her son! Now, Ruby’s story is being immortalized by Netflix in a heartwarming family film. “Rescued by Ruby,” premieres March 17!

Original Post 6/28/18:

It’s been seven years since an energetic pup named Ruby joined the Rhode Island State Police K9 Unit.

She was surrendered to the Rhode Island Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) by her first owner, then adopted – and returned – four more times before finding her place in this world.

Joseph Warzycha, a former police officer and the current director of operations at the RISPCA, told PeopleTV’s Paws & Claws:

“After the fifth time [she had been returned] we would be assuming too much liability if we were to place this dog into the average home.”


Ruby’s fate may have been quite different if it weren’t for Warzycha. He saw potential in the boisterous, “generally unmanageable” 8-month-old Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix. During his time as an officer, Warzycha had learned a bit about working K9s and knew that Ruby’s high energy could be an asset – if it could be harnessed.

Trooper Daniel O’Neil of the Rhode Island State Police had always dreamed of joining the K9 unit, so when he learned about Ruby, he eagerly took on the challenge of training her to channel her enthusiasm into scent work. The partnership got off to a rocky start, but after six months of intensive training, O’Neil had a partner, and Ruby had a job and a forever home!

“She really came into her own,” O’Neil said.


One fateful day in October 2017, Ruby and O’Neil were called in to help locate a missing teenager. The boy had been gone for more than 36 hours and all human search attempts had failed. They successfully located the boy in grave need of medical attention hours later. He was transported to a local hospital, and thanks to Ruby and O’Neil, made a full recovery.

When O’Neil met with the boy’s mother to give her the good news, he discovered that she had once been a volunteer trainer at the RISPCA. Not only did she remember Ruby, she had also worked tirelessly to rehabilitate her and save her from euthanasia six years earlier.

The once dominant, unruly dog had finally paid back the woman’s kindness by rescuing her son! See the amazing story from Trooper O’Neil’s perspective below.

These days, Ruby is one busy K9. In addition to her police duties, she has made it to the semi-finals of the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards! Her story is also featured in the new film Searchdog, set to be released on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play on July 18th.

Above all else, Ruby has found the loving, forever home every shelter dog dreams of. She will remain O’Neil’s beloved pet after her retirement from the K9 unit.

“She brings a little humility to a very negative environment,” O’Neil told People Pets. “When you have a dog that has that emotion of pure love, it is really tough to be in a bad mood. She just wants to be with you.”


H/T to People Pets
Featured Image via Facebook/Rhode Island State Police

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