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Hero Down: Rhode Island State Police K9 Ruby Dies After Being Diagnosed With Untreatable Illness

Scituate, RI – Rhode Island State Police (RISP) K9 Ruby died on May 13 after she was diagnosed with a “sudden, acute, and untreatable illness,” according to police.

The 11-and-one-half-year-old border collie and Australian shepherd mix was humanely euthanized to end her suffering, The Providence Journal reported.

“Today the Rhode Island State Police family is mourning the death of K-9 Ruby,” RISP Superintendent Colonel Darnell Weaver said in a press release. “Her partnership with Corporal [Dan] O’Neil was a special one and their search and rescue work in our K-9 Unit was a great service to the Rhode Islanders who have needed their help. Her award-winning rescue inspired us and we are grateful for her years of service.”

K9 Ruby was adopted and returned to the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals five times before she was ultimately determined to been unadoptable, The Providence Journal reported.

She was just hours away from being euthanized when the RISP chose her to go through its police dog training program.

K9 Ruby went on serve her department alongside Cpl. O’Neil for 11 years, The Providence Journal reported.

The duo conducted many search and rescue missions and enjoyed visiting schools and participating in events throughout the community.

K9 Ruby located an injured teenager in 2017 and helped saved the boy’s life, according to The Providence Journal.

The RISP later discovered that the injured teen’s mother worked as a volunteer at the shelter and had cared for K9 Ruby as a puppy – a fact the boy’s family also didn’t know at the time of his rescue, WPRI reported.

The heroic rescues of both the boy and of K9 Ruby resulted in her being nationally chosen as the American Humane Hero Dog Search and Rescue Dog of the Year in 2018, The Providence Journal reported.

K9 Ruby’s story was also chronicled in the 2022 Netflix movie, “Rescued by Ruby,” which premiered in March.

“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,” Col. Weaver said, according to WPRI. “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.”

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

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rhode Island State Police and Corporal O’Neil in the loss of K9 Ruby.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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