Famous 'hero' K-9 found after running away from handler
K9 Ruby, the Rhode Island State Police dog who garnered national attention as one of the Hero Dogs of 2018, ran off Monday
UPDATE: 12:49 p.m. PST
Rhode Island State Police announced that Ruby was found safe and sound and is back with her partner, Trooper Dan O'Neil. She was located around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The Providence Journal, R.I.
PROVIDENCE — K9 Ruby, the Rhode Island State Police dog who garnered national attention as one of the Hero Dogs of 2018, ran off Monday at about 10 a.m. while she and her handler, Trooper Dan O'Neil, were off duty.
It is unclear why she took off, a news release from the Rhode Island State Police said at about 9:45 p.m., as the search continued in the area of Ives Road, on the Warwick/East Greenwich line, near Goddard Park.
The state police asked for the public's help just before 5 p.m. At about 6 p.m., someone reported seeing the border collie and Australian shepherd mix. Warwick police posted on Facebook asking anyone driving near Goddard Park to drive slowly because of the "large amounts of police and volunteers looking for Ruby."
Ruby, who was chosen in national online voting as American Humane's Search & Rescue Hero Dog of 2018, flew across the country in a commercial airline seat, stayed at the Beverly Hills Hilton with O'Neil and his wife, appeared on morning talk shows on both coasts, and was filmed as part of the American Humane awards gala that was aired later on Hallmark Channel. In New York for a taping of "Today," she saw the "Dogs of 9/11" exhibit at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and dined out with the other dogs and handlers at a New York City restaurant.
She is featured in Mary Healey Jamiel's documentary, "Searchdog," about Matthew Zarrella's efforts to establish and build a state police K9 corps. Zarrella retired as a sergeant and operates American Patriot K9 Training.
Ruby, a shelter dog since she was about seven months old, was adopted and returned five times.
Each time she was returned, professional dog trainer Patricia Crowley Inman, a volunteer for RISPCA, worked with Ruby to correct her unacceptable behaviors. Inman came to believe that Ruby wasn't meant for a family and needed a job. RISPCA investigator Joseph Warzycha, now the organization's operations manager, also saw potential in Ruby. Two hours before she was to be euthanized as unadoptable, Warzycha asked Zarrella to evaluate Ruby for police work. She and O'Neil trained together.
Ruby's Hero Dog nomination Hero Dog resulted from an astonishing coincidence. She located a young man who had been missing for 36 hours before K9 searchers were called in. Ruby found him, unconscious, barely breathing and with a head injury, just in time. The young man's mother is the RISPCA volunteer who recommended Ruby for police work.
E.J. Finocchio, a veterinarian and director of the RISPCA, said Monday evening that Monday was a nice day, and even in highly trained working dogs, "the dog comes out in the dog."
Anyone who sees her or knows her whereabouts is asked to call the Wickford Barracks at (401) 294-3371.
©2018 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)