Champ has earned his name.
In August the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office of South Carolina was notified about an animal cruelty case by the County’s Animal Control office.
According to KLAS, what the authorities discovered was a severely emaciated Mastiff mix, too weak to stand on his own, that was being starved by the dog owner’s ex-girlfriend. The ABC new affiliate reports the woman, identified as Elizabeth Lena James by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, fed her own dogs but starved the one canine after her breakup, because the dog belonged to her ex and she was angry at him for leaving.
New York City-based Rescue Dogs Rock NYC heard of Champ’s horrendous situation through a Facebook post on Aug. 14 and by the next day the rescue was in contact with Laurens County Animal Control. Rescue Dogs Rock NYC co-founder Jacquelyn O’Sullivan tells PEOPLE that since the rescue has worked with Laurens County Animal Control in the past, they were able to quickly get the dog under their care.
Along with being emaciated — Champ weighed 50 lbs. when a healthy weight for him would be 110 lbs. — Champ also had pale gums, a low red blood cell count and was covered in maggots.
“One week in, he is doing better. He is starting physical therapy and his red blood cells are finally starting to regenerate on their own,” O’Sullivan says.
The rescue has been keeping Champ’s growing number of fans updated on his progress through his new Facebook page Justice for Champ. Recent posts show the dark-colored canine with atrophied muscles taking his first steps with assistance and standing up on his own.
“Today, he is very weak and can only stand for a few seconds, but he is standing and he is enjoying excellent medical care, good food, kind people, green grass, sunshine and freedom. He will never be starved or have to live tied outside, alone and suffering ever again!” reads a post from Wednesday.
According to O’Sullivan, Champ had been left tied up outside for six months, though the rescue isn’t sure when James stopped feeding him.
The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office announced that James was arrested for animal cruelty and booked at the Laurens County Detention Center on August 16. James had her bond hearing the following day and paid her $15,000 bond.
Though this abuse may be hard for many to comprehend, that life is in the rearview for Champ.
“He is recovering little by little day after day. It will take months for him to get back to his ideal weight,” O’Sullivan says, adding that even with a long road ahead Champ is still an “amazingly sweet” pooch.
Once Champ’s health and weight are at a place where he doesn’t need around the clock care, the rescue will start looking to find him a forever home and they have already received “LOTS” of interest.