WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Even though it’s been one year since K-9 Ruby left this Earth, her legacy lives on in the hearts of every Rhode Islander who had the chance to meet her.
Ruby passed away from an untreatable illness last May with handler, Rhode Island State Police Cpl. Dan O’Neil, and his family by her side. She was 11 years old.
To honor her memory, Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi surprised O’Neil and his family with a special memorial bench at Sandy Point Beach for Ruby this past weekend.
The bench includes a plaque that reads: “Dedicated to Corporal Daniel O’Neil and Family in Memory of K-9 Ruby — Badge #9223 R.I. State Police Search and Rescue.”
Picozzi said the idea came from O’Neil’s neighbor, Leigh Carney, who wanted to pay tribute to Ruby’s legacy, adding that she spearheaded the effort to raise money and bring the memorial to fruition.
The Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix first made a name for herself in 2011. Ruby teamed up with O’Neil, who gave her a chance after she had been deemed “unadoptable” and nearly put down.
Ruby joined R.I. State Police as a search-and-rescue K-9 after passing her tests with flying colors. But little did O’Neil know that the pair would be sent on a life-changing mission nearly six years later.
With O’Neil by her side, Ruby joined officers in an hours-long search for a missing 19-year-old in Glocester, who she eventually sniffed out and found in grave condition.
In a strange twist of fate, O’Neil would later learn that the man Ruby rescued was the son of the woman who cared for Ruby when she was a shelter dog.
Ruby would go on to be nationally recognized, receiving the Search and Rescue Hero Dog award in 2018. Her heroic story was also forever memorialized in the Netflix original movie “Rescued by Ruby.”