Is Rescued by Ruby Based on a True Story?

Directed by Katt Shea, ‘Rescued by Ruby’ is a drama movie on Netflix. It follows a state trooper named Dan who forms an unlikely bond with his rescue dog Ruby. He dreams of joining the K-9 unit with Ruby, but her mischievous and wild nature makes it hard to calm her and train her for the task. Though many give up on Ruby, Dan decides to stay put and resiliently works with the sweet dog towards his goal.

A heartwarming tale of the love between a man and his pet as well as an ode to the loyal creatures that dogs are, ‘Rescued by Ruby’ is indeed a treat for animal lovers. The touching narrative, filled with emotional moments and the realistic performances of the cast members, makes the audience wonder whether the movie is based on a real incident. Let’s find out if that’s the case, shall we?

Is Rescued by Ruby a True Story?

Yes, ‘Rescued by Ruby’ is based on a true story. It is the biographical account of Rhode Island State Trooper Corporal Daniel O’ Neil and his canine partner Ruby. He joined the police academy in 2004 and became a part of the K-9 unit in 2011. It was around that time when he met Ruby, an Australian Shepherd and border collie mix.

Image Credit: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix

The eight-month-old dog had been given to a shelter when she was barely 4-5 months, and subsequently returned five times after adoption due to her unmanageable behavior. “She was a total knucklehead… 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,” shared Patricia Inman in an interview.

Patricia was a Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) volunteer, who fostered Ruby each time she was returned and even intervened repeatedly to prevent her from being euthanized. Furthermore, she tried training the canine to correct her behavior and concluded that Ruby needed a job to utilize her potential. Another person who saw scope in the dog was Rhode Island SPCA investigator Joseph Warzycha.

Just two hours before Ruby was to be euthanized for being unadoptable, Warzycha approached Rhode Island State Police Trooper Matthew Zarrella, who established and assembled the K-9 unit of the department. Matthew took in Ruby and teamed her up with Daniel, thus beginning her journey to becoming a top search and rescue dog. Though Daniel was impressed by her focus and determination, it was quite an uphill task for him to train her defiant traits and earn her trust.

Image Credit: American Humane/YouTube

Moreover, Daniel identified with Ruby’s struggles, as he himself is a person with dyslexia and hyperactivity. Despite the stigma around her not being purebred like other K-9 dogs, Ruby shattered all stereotypes and graduated at the top of her class in the academy. Things took an interesting turn in October 2017, when a teenage boy went missing for 36 hours while hiking near his home in the area.

Daniel and Ruby joined in the search and rescue mission, and the skilled canine led the policeman to the boy, who had gotten gravely injured after falling into a ravine. Despite no radio or GPS signal, Ruby managed to draw the attention of the authorities to their location, and the boy was finally saved. To everyone’s surprise, he turned out to be none other than Patricia’s son, who was both relieved and ecstatic to see her old friend. The kind lady’s good deeds bore fruit as the very dog she had saved rescued her son in return.

Daniel shared in an interview that Ruby was extremely excited to reunite with Patricia and said, “Ruby came running over, and it was like a long-lost family member… Ears go down, tail starts wagging — it was like they had never been apart.” In 2018, Ruby was awarded the American Humane Hero Dog’s Search and Rescue Dog of the Year title for her heroic act. In addition, this particular incident brought her into the limelight and helped Daniel and many others advocate for the adoption of shelter animals.

Image Credit: American Humane/YouTube

Daniel and Ruby have been partners for around 11 years, and have successfully completed numerous other search and rescue missions for their unit. About the authenticity of the movie, he disclosed in an interview that it is not at all fabricated and rather an accurate representation of their story. He further praised actor Scott Wolf’s portrayal of Matthew Zarrella, adding how his performance reminds him of his senior.

Therefore, to reinstate, ‘Rescued by Ruby’ is a beautiful retelling of true events and gives the message of compassion and not giving up on one’s dreams. It also highlights the importance of giving a chance to rescued animals and how much dogs contribute to society.

Read More: Where Was Rescued by Ruby Filmed?