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'Walking Dead' star adopts sweet puppy, encourages others to 'rescue a pit bull'

Actor Jon Bernthal of "The Punisher" and "The Walking Dead" has a new starring role: proud papa to a most adorable pit bull puppy.
/ Source: TODAY

One actor recently went from "The Walking Dead" to walking the dog.

Jon Bernthal, once best known for playing Shane on AMC's hit show "The Walking Dead," has a new starring role: proud papa to a most adorable pit bull puppy.

Bernthal said on Instagram that his new pup is named Lil Bam Bam Bernthal. He encouraged others to "Rescue a Pit Bull. They just may rescue you back. Big love."

Bernthal is a longtime dog advocate (no surprise, given that his father, attorney Eric Bernthal, is chairman of the board of the Humane Society of the United States) who has two other well-loved pitties, Boss and Venice.

"I've kind of been a pit bull guy my whole life. I've got two rescues living with me now, with me and my kids, my family," he told in 2015.

The 40-year-old actor, who appeared as The Punisher on Netflix's second season of "Daredevil" (and is getting his own Netflix series about the vigilante Marvel character, aka Frank Castle, releasing sometime this year), has partnered with HSUS on anti-animal cruelty campaigns.

He and his dogs, along with his son Billy — one of the actor's three kids — have also appeared in a video promoting The Majority Project, a photo series put out by the nonprofit Animal Farm Foundation. It shows families with their pit bulls, and is aimed at countering negative, untrue stereotypes about both the dogs and the people who love them.

These stereotypes are enshrined in law in hundreds of cities and counties in North America, where pit bulls are banned or otherwise regulated. This includes Miami, Denver and Montreal.

So-called breed-specific legislation is on its way out, with groups such as the ASPCA, the American Bar Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and many others finding these laws to be ineffective at promoting public safety, expensive to enforce and leading to heartbreaking results for families and dogs.

Stacey Coleman, Animal Farm Foundation's executive director, told TODAY she hopes Lil Bam Bam's adoption will help show that dogs of all stripes deserve the opportunity to find loving homes of their own.

"That is one lucky pup! Not only did he land in the lap of Hollywood, he has been welcomed in to the kind and generous Bernthal family," she said. "We are glad this dog will know love for the rest of his days and we look forward to the time when this is possible for all dogs."