RI State Police K-9 up for Search & Rescue Hero Dog Award

Rhode Island State Police K-9 Ruby (Rhode State Police photo)

A Rhode Island State Police K-9 that recently found a missing Glocester teenager has been nominated for American Humane's Search & Rescue Hero Dog Award.

Ruby and her handler, Trooper Daniel O'Neil, were contacted in October to help in the search after police had looked for about 36 hours.

Together, they located the teen, who was unconscious in the woods.

"State Police and EMS services removed the boy from the scene and transported him to a local hospital, where he made a full recovery. If it were not for the effort of the State Police and especially K-9 Ruby, that young boy’s life may have been lost," O’Neil said.

But there’s more to the story.

“As part of normal protocol, I briefly interviewed the victim’s mother,” O’Neil said. “During their conversation, it was revealed that victim’s mother was Patricia Inman.”

O’Neil noted Inman said she had volunteered with Ruby at least six years ago at the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She said she fostered Ruby every time the dog was returned after four failed adoption attempts.

While Ruby was set to be euthanized, RISPCA Director of Operations Joe Warzycha made a last-minute call to Rhode Island State Police K-9 evaluator, Sgt. Matt Zarrella, who is now retired. Zarrella ended up pairing Ruby up with O’Neil -- and the rest is history.

“You can think what you may, but I believe that was Ruby’s way of saying thank you to Ms. Inman for taking care of her during her rough beginning,” O’Neil said. “Ruby was given a chance at life and ended up saving a life.”

According to its website, the American Humane Hero Dog Awards is an annual campaign that recognizes heroes on both ends of the leash. Seven lucky finalists and their human companions will be flown to Hollywood for a star-studded awards gala, which will be broadcast nationwide on Hallmark Channel next fall.

Click here to vote for Ruby. Voting is open until April 25.

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