Over the weekend, the law enforcement community bid farewell to one of their own – its first K9 Officer Ruby – who was laid to rest. She was 15 years old.
Pictured at the top of the article are Ruby with her handler Officer Thomas Parker and the rest of the Parker family with whom she lived at her retirement ceremony, Oct. 26, 2017 at the Community Building. Photos by Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper
Serving the Highlands Police Department for an entire decade, Ruby first joined Highlands PD in October 2007 and her last official tour of duty was October 2017.
In fact, Halloween 2007 during the town’s annual trick-or-treating, citizens met Canine Officer Ruby for the first time. On Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 she officially retired with fanfare.
“To say that Ruby was a pioneer for a new policing method in Highlands for Highlands PD would be an understatement,” said Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell. “Ruby was the first K9 ever for Highlands and she made her presence felt quickly with numerous finds [people, evidence, articles, and narcotics].”
Ruby was a black lab and a full-patrol dog, which means she was used for various types of police work including narcotics detection, apprehension, and human scent tracking. Chief Harrell credits the success of the department’s K9 program to Ruby.
“Ruby paved the way for our two newest K9 Officers Hope [a German Shepherd] and Xena [a Malinois],” said Harrell. “Had Ruby not been as successful and received such a welcoming by the Highlands community, the K9 unit we have wouldn’t be.”
Ruby became a very valued family member to her handlers, their immediate family and department members.
Officer John Cherry was Ruby’s first handler, before his military deployment in 2010 and then Master Officer Thomas Parker was assigned as her partner.
Ruby lived with the Parker family while on duty and stayed with them after “retirement.”
Officer Parker said she was part of the family.
“Ruby was a great dog all around, she did not know a stranger and was loved by lots of people in town,” said Parker. “She quickly became a part of my family and was very protective of my children. As a K9, Ruby enjoyed going to work and she would get excited as I was getting ready for duty. Ruby always got excited when it was time to get out of the car and do a search.”
While working with Parker, Ruby’s alerts resulted in over 55 law enforcement actions including 24 arrests and 31 citations. Ruby tracked and located seven subjects that were lost or had dementia and wondered from their residences.
“She will be sorely missed,” said Harrell.
According to Chief Harrell, she also performed 13 tracking missions, finding all targets.
A short memorial ceremony will be held at Highlands Police Department in the coming weeks as soon as arrangements can be finalized.
“Please look and listen for information as it becomes available,” said Harrell.
By Brittney Lofthouse