They weren't ready to take on a new dog, but they couldn't leave Forrest behind.
Animal lovers Ryan Hunter and his fiancé Lisa had decided last year that they were going to wait quite some time before getting another dog after their beloved 15-year-old Beagle, Travis, died late in the summer. After loving Travis with all that they had, especially after Travis got Ryan through some pretty tough times when the pair first met, the couple had to put down their lifelong companion because of illnesses he had developed with old age. Utterly heartbroken, Ryan and Lisa were not prepared to take another dog under their wing—that is, until they spotted Forrest.
In an incident that the couple calls being “in the right place at the right time,” they were pulling into a parking lot in Los Angeles when they saw Forrest round a corner and head into oncoming traffic. Although Ryan tried to stop him from getting hurt, Forrest was ultimately hit by a van on his right side. Ryan ran over to the stray dog after the driver sped off, but Forrest was so scared and injured that he got up and ran away from him in a panic.
“I chased him for blocks, through parking lots and back streets, and I eventually lost him,” Hunter told The Dodo. “I went back to find Lisa and saw her flagging me down from about half a mile down a road that led to the entrance of the 5 freeway. I sprinted to her and she told me she saw him near the entrance to the 5. I finally found him sitting beside a tree about a block away.”
Although he was clearly exhausted from running and badly injured, Forrest was still terrified of these new humans and even tried to bite Ryan as he approached him slowly. Ryan knew that forcing the dog to go with him might cause him to injure himself even more, so he decided to sit beside him and gain his trust for a bit. After inching slowly towards him over time and petting him, Forrest seemed to trust Ryan and allowed him to wrap him in a blanket and take him to the vet.
Forrest’s chances of survival were slim, and when the vets at the hospital found out that he was a stray his prognosis was even dimmer. He had massive brain swelling, his heart rate plummeted, and he was at risk of hemorrhaging and dying at any moment while they operated on him.
“The hospital manager informed us that the shelter would be coming shortly to pick him up. I was told that he’d be examined by their vet to deem if he is adoptable. The dog was covered in fleas, not neutered, had massive head trauma, scrapes and bruises all over, and was in the midst of having his right eye removed, so no…he would not be considered ‘adoptable.’ The vet tech admitted that he’d likely be euthanized upon arrival at the shelter,” Ryan said in an Instagram post.
It was at this moment that Ryan and Lisa knew they couldn’t just give up on Forrest after all he had been through. They signed the papers to claim ownership of the dog, who had been stray for a long time, named him Forrest, and agreed to pay all of the vet bills to get him the best care. The pair admitted that they were not financially ready to take on a dog with this many needs, but couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him to die after his years of living on the street and a traumatic injury.
“We made the decision right there to adopt him,” Ryan said. “Lisa and I lost our beagle in September last year, and he was blind, deaf and diabetic. We’re very accustomed to dealing with dogs with special needs, so we felt like this was fate.”
Since Ryan is the member of a band and Forrest’s vet bills are high and will continue to increase with his future care, the band has decided to extend an invitation to their followers and anyone interested to participate in a raffle to raise funds. You can find more information about donating and being a part of the raffle here.
Ryan and Lisa are thrilled to have Forrest as a part of their family now, even though they know that the following months and years will be an uphill battle as he gets used to having only one eye and trusting humans. Forrest is startled easily, usually by loud noises and strangers, which is a result of him living in fear as a stray. In a video about the incident, the couple said that they plan to spend the rest of Forrest’s life making up for the trauma that he has experienced.
“Every day has been a small victory,” Ryan said. “Yesterday we got a tail wag when we approached. Recently I laid down in the grass after setting him down a few feet away from me to pee and he made his way over to me and laid down with his body pressed up against me. That was a really beautiful sign that he’s comfortable here at the house and knows we’re going to take good care of him.”
If you would like to help Ryan and Lisa with the bills for Forrest’s emergency care, you can donate directly to Forrest and his new family by following the link here.