05/06/2012 AT 9:00 AM ET
When Ashley Judd heard about an animal abuse case involving a dog getting thrown out of a moving car window, she took it personally.
The Tennessee-based actress first called Snooty Giggles, the rescue organization that took the dog into its care, then the local clinic where the dog ended up, Animalia Health & Wellness for Animals. She said she wanted to visit the approximately 5-year-old cockapoo, who had been named Walter after the councilman who helped find care for the dog.
Since then, Judd has been at with Walter every day. “She spends time with him outside, loving on him,” Animalia’s Melody Drushal tells PEOPLE. “She’s supporting him both financially and emotionally.”
In addition to giving hours of her time on a daily basis, Judd and husband Dario Franchitti plan to pay for Walter’s medical care. She has also spoken out against the abuse that led to his emaciated condition. Walter had been starved for so long, he is now just 11 lbs., or half his ideal body weight.
“It’s almost unbearable,” Judd told Nashville’s WKRN. “It certainly defies individual and collective humanity to know that, not just Walter, but a lot of animals, are treated this way.”
Walter, whose progress is being documented by Snooty Giggles on Facebook, and by Judd on Twitter, now has an improved appetite and is able to eat on his own. While he has shown signs of improvement, his condition is still fragile, and there is a chance he might not make it.
“If Walter lives, or goes to heaven, he will be okay,” Judd Tweeted. “Up to us to love him as hard & well as we can while God figures this out.”
“We are doing everything we can to help Walter,” says Snooty Giggles’ Shawn Aswad. “Ashley has been a huge support.”
The “very sweet” dog likes to be with people and other dogs, and may someday get fostered by Judd – who has two similar-looking dogs of her own – if he recovers. For now, Judd is condemning the behavior that led to Walter’s condition.
“This never should have happened to Walter,” Judd said, “and through his story, we can make sure that it never happens to another animal again.”
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