LAKE FOREST — Forest, an American pit bull, German shepherd mix spent two years dodging traffic and animal control officers in the community of Lake Forest.Now, he is the face of rescue dogs …
LAKE FOREST — Forest, an American pit bull, German shepherd mix spent two years dodging traffic and animal control officers in the community of Lake Forest.
Now, he is the face of rescue dogs around the Gulf Coast. This fall, Forest will be featured on cans of Fairhope Brewing Company's Rescue Dog Red IPA, after winning an online vote by the public.
This is the 10th year the brewery has offered Rescue Dog Red with close to $20,000 raised for the Baldwin County Humane Society, said managing partner Jim Foley.
This is the second year the brewery has offered Rescue Dog Red in cans. Last year, six can designs featured rescue dogs owned by brewery employees.
"One of the main things about this is that we all own rescue dogs," Foley said. "This year we decided to open it up as a contest, and the response was overwhelming. We will be doing something similar to this every year from now on."
Forest was one of 10 finalists selected in May and announced as the winner at the end of June. Proceeds from the sale of Rescue Dog Red benefit the Baldwin County Humane Society.
The public would have never met Forest without the help of his adopted family — mom Dana Lee Davis and her daughters, 14-year-old Lucy and 13-year-old Halen. Forest also lives with a house full of cats, including Bob, who family members say is his best friend.
Davis had rescued her cats over the years, and when posts started popping up on community social media sites about a stray dog in the neighborhood, she resigned herself not to get involved.
"I'm more of a cat person," she said, "and with four cats and two daughters to take care of, quite frankly I didn't see how I could afford to take care of a dog."
But then a friend posted that she was afraid for the dog because it was running out into traffic.
"On her behalf, I decided to see if I could coax the dog out of traffic," Davis said. She sat outside for hours and used hot dogs to try to gain his trust.
"He wouldn't run, but he would keep his distance," Davis said.
The next day, Forest showed up in a field across from the Davis home.
"I just opened the front door and sat out front, offering him turkey luncheon meat," she said. Soon Forest was eating out of her hand.
A professional photographer, Davis also began taking photos of the dog and posted the pictures on Facebook, where he received more than 17,000 likes.
Eventually a trapper named Bobbie Chasarik reached out to Davis and offered to help catch Forest.
"She has an elaborate cage that she offered to set up at no charge," Davis said.
The question remained, what to do with Forest once he was caught.
"I had been working with animal control, so I thought the obvious answer would be to let animal control take him," Davis said.
But Chasarik said since Forest had been free for so long, he would likely not respond well to being kept in a cage. So, the next most obvious option was for Davis to keep the dog.
While Forest settled into his new home, Davis said, the entire Lake Forest community came together on his behalf.
"Neighbors and followers on Facebook offered money to help, but I thought it would be unethical for me to take the money personally," Davis said.
Enter Officer Nichole Degan at Paw and Order Rescue Ranch in Loxley. Donations were sent to the nonprofit to pay for Forest's medical expenses. Nearly $1,500 and Dr. Alan Moore at Robertsdale Animal Clinic treated Forest's medical needs.
The community also set up an Amazon account where donors could buy items to help with Forest's day-to-day expenses, including food and treats, along with other items like clothing, harnesses, collars and leashes.
"He is named Forest because the people of Lake Forest came together to take care of him," Davis said.
Forest has developed a large following on social media with near daily posts on Facebook. He also has his own Tik Tok and Instagram accounts.
"I try to post something every day, and when I don't, someone will inevitably post a message wanting to know what Forest is doing and how he is," Davis said.
Soon all of those followers will be able to celebrate another stray animal saved with a glass of Rescue Dog Red, featuring Lake Forest's favorite rescue dog.
"I'm so excited that he was chosen out of more than 350 entries," Davis said.