Hero Police Dog, Basis for Netflix's 'Rescued by Ruby,' Euthanized Due to 'Untreatable Illness'

After a lengthy shelter stay and several failed adoptions, beloved rescue dog Ruby worked with the Rhode Island State Police for 11 years and saved numerous lives

K-9 featured in Netflix’s ‘Rescued by Ruby’ euthanized
Photo: Rhode Island State Police

Rhode Island shelter dog Ruby — the canine hailed a hero for her work as a police K-9 and the subject for the Netflix film Rescued by Ruby — is dead.

On Sunday, the Rhode Island State Police revealed that 11-year-old Ruby was euthanized on May 13 due to a "sudden, acute, and untreatable illness."

"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. Darnell Weaver, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, said in a press release. "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. She worked right until the end and never gave up doing what she loved most — making people smile," he added.

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K-9 featured in Netflix’s ‘Rescued by Ruby’ euthanized
Rhode Island State Police

Ruby, an Australian shepherd/border collie mix, was the first shelter dog to train with the Rhode Island State Police. Her handler, Corporal Daniel O'Neil, practiced with the canine for a year, helping her become a certified trooper with the Rhode Island State Police K9 Unit by 2012.

Before joining the state police force, Ruby was at Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA), still searching for a home after months at the shelter and five failed adoptions.

Even though the energetic pup had some hard-to-manage behaviors, shelter volunteer Patricia Inman stayed devoted to Ruby, training the dog and working to find her the ideal forever home.

That spot ended up being with the Rhode Island State Police and in O'Neil's home, where Ruby lived when she was off work. Together, Ruby and O'Neil helped find numerous missing individuals.

Ruby's story went nationwide following one particularly remarkable rescue in 2017. At the time, O'Neil received a call from Rhode Island's Gloucester Police Department, asking for assistance locating a missing boy gone for over 36 hours.

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After six hours of searching, Ruby located the missing boy and stayed by his side with O'Neil until rescuers came to take the child to the hospital.

Once the boy was on his way to safety, Ruby and O'Neil met the child's family. They were shocked to find that the boy's mother was Patricia Inman, the shelter volunteer at the RISPCA who never quit searching for Ruby's forever home.

"She started to cry. I started to cry," O'Neil told PEOPLE in March about Iman's reactions to realizing that Ruby rescued her rescuer.

"Even six years after not seeing her, Ruby was wagging her tail and jumping up on Pat, giving her kisses," he added. "I told Pat, 'Pat, this was Ruby's way of saying thank you for giving her a chance.'"

Ruby's journey from shelter pet to hero dog was the inspiration for the Netflix film, Rescued by Ruby, which premiered on March 17.

"There's a champion spirit in all of us that sometimes takes one person to see what we don't see in ourselves. Trooper Dan O'Neill saw that in Ruby. And she saw it in him," SQuire Rushnell and Louise DuArt, the executive producers of Rescued by Ruby, shared in a statement to PEOPLE.

"As dramatized in our Rescued By Ruby movie, they needed each other for that champion spirit to flourish. We like to imagine that a scrappy rescue dog named Ruby, saved in the 11th hour by Trooper Dan and a Godwink, has now arrived at her heavenly destination and heard these words: 'Good dog, my faithful servant.' " the statement concluded.

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