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American Hero Dog: Ruby

Ruby, a hardworking K9 search and rescue dog, lives to protect and serve. Her story is especially extraordinary because not only did she save someone’s life, but it was the very same person who originally rescued her from the shelter and her rough beginning.

Before earning her badge, Ruby had a difficult life. She was surrendered to the Rhode Island SPCA when she was just four months old because she was unmanageable for her then owners. Patricia Inman, a shelter worker, fought to find a suitable home for Ruby, but Ruby was a dynamite, full of non-stop energy. She was too much of a handful and was repeatedly adopted and returned, adopted and returned, adopted and returned….

It became very clear, very quickly that Ruby just didn’t fit in to what normal people would expect in a pet dog, but Patricia didn’t give up. She knew there was something special about Ruby’s energy and drive. She just needed a job where she could focus all that energy. Rhode Island State Police Trooper Daniel O’Neil needed another Search and Rescue dog, and with Patricia vouching for Ruby, he decided to take a chance on her.

Search and rescue dogs are typically bred and raised for the job. The training for Ruby was from the ground up – a foundation had to be built. There was a stigma around her being a shelter dog, but the second she was seen working, all fears were abated. Ruby completed her training at the top of her class and served the community for several years.

And then, in a strange twist of fate, Ruby was called on to find Patricia’s son. He had been missing for 36 hours, and hopes were not high that there would be a happy outcome. Daniel and Ruby searched nearby hiking trails for several hours before Ruby caught the teenage boy’s scent and beelined to where he was found in grave medical condition. The boy was taken to the hospital and made a full recovery.

It was nothing short of a miracle. Patricia saved Ruby, a dog who had almost run out of a hope, and now seven years later, Ruby paid it forward a hundred times. Give a shelter dog a second chance and it could possibly save your world.

Ruby was honored as the 2018 Search and Rescue American Hero Dog. The search is underway for this year’s top heroes. To learn more, visit

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