The then-unnamed animal was found, sick and dirty, in the center of town. Kenneth Shaw, owner of Ken's Package Store, led efforts to restore him to health, treating him for a severe flea infestation and providing food and water. He sheltered in a dog house just outside the store, with the name "Fred the Town Dog" painted over the door.
A donation jar inside offset the cost of his medical treatment and upkeep. The funds were deposited into a savings account in Fred's name at First Bank. The notoriety landed him in the pages of the weekly Coosa County News, and he eventually was given his own column, "A Dog's Life," in which various ghostwriters, including police officer Jimmy Hale, imagined Rockford's daily goings-on through Fred's eyes.
Shaw began marketing t-shirts, hunting caps and mugs with a photo of Fred. The "Animal Planet" cable television channel profiled him in 1999.
Fred died in December 2002 in a Birmingham animal hospital from a snake or spider bite. He was buried behind the Old Rock Jail. A full-size grave marker, donated by a Montgomery businessman, was added in May 2003. Fred was inducted into the Alabama Animal Hall of Fame in 2004. A documentary short film, "Fred: The Town Dog" directed by Ava Lowrey, premiered at the 2014 Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.
- Calvert, Scott (January 17, 2003) "Fred, the town dog: R.I.P." Baltimore Sun
- Sutton, Amber (January 16, 2013) "Community of Rockford's adoration for former town dog to be the focus of new documentary." The Birmingham News
- Fred: The Town Dog documentary site