A heartwarming Netflix movie tells the true story of the inspiring relationship between a Rhode Island State Police trooper and his K-9.
Rescued by Ruby documents the true story about a state trooper who keeps getting rejected by the department’s K-9 team until he meets shelter puppy Ruby — a meeting that changes their lives forever.
In real life, the story of Corporal Daniel O’Neil and his search-and-rescue dog Ruby began when O’Neil picked her up from a local shelter in 2011. At the time, Ruby — an Australian shepherd and border collie mix — was deemed “unadoptable” due to behavioral problems.
Ruby was first dropped off at the shelter when she was four months old. She was adopted by five separate families but was returned to the shelter each time because of her strange personality.
“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,” shelter volunteer Patricia Inman explained to the Miami Herald.
Had O’Neil not picked her up, Ruby would have most likely been euthanized.
Fortunately, Joe Warzycha at the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) felt that Ruby would be good for police work.
O’Neil, who had been trying to become a K-9 handler since 2004, was the perfect match for Ruby. He began training her for both daily life and police work. With Ruby, he was able to finally join the K-9 team.
“[She] was this Australian shepherd/border collie that was deemed unadoptable, you know, unmanageable,” O’Neil explained. “But because the dog was so smart and all the talents the dog had just wasn’t being focused on the right things, the dog just needed a job.”
The pair’s story eventually caught Hollywood’s eye in 2017 after their successful search for a missing boy made headlines.
O’Neil and Ruby teamed up with Glocester police to search for a missing boy. After searching for nearly six hours, Ruby was able to locate the boy.
“All of a sudden, she started off into the woods, and I couldn’t believe it,” O’Neil remembered. “She came around the corner, I came around the corner, and there’s a pair of boots on the ground, and it was a young boy laying face down.”
This was Ruby’s first successful mission.
“On the one hand, I’m upset because there’s this young boy that’s possibly perished, but also very happy for Ruby, who worked so hard for the last six years, and finally, she finally did what I’ve been telling her to do,” he said.
The boy survived, and by coincidence, his mother used to volunteer at the same shelter Ruby stayed at.
It was the perfect story of perseverance.
“I said, ‘No way, that was the dog that you never gave up on that just saved your son’s life,’ and she started to cry,” O’Neil said. “I think this was Ruby‘s way of saying ‘thank you’ for never giving up on her.”
O’Neil said one of the proudest moments of his life was watching the story come to life on the big screen during a special screening before the release.
“To have [actor Grant Gustin] wear my badge number that I’ve been wearing for the last 18 years,” O’Neil said. “It was one of the best nights of my life to see my life portrayed by another actor, you know? I lived it all.”
O’Neil and Ruby are still with each other 24/7 and plan to work as a team for as long as they can. O’Neil doesn’t see Ruby retiring any time soon.
“I don’t see Ruby retiring anytime soon, so I think we’re gonna work side by side for a long time, which makes my life crazy, but I’m used to it,” O’Neil said.
The movie was released for streaming on March 17.