News & Community

Gentle Men Prefer Dogs

Animal lover mounts PR campaign to protect pets.

When a spate of animal cruelty cases rocked Baltimore five years ago, Sande Riesett was horrified, especially because much of the violence had been perpetrated by teens. In response, the former advertising exec co-founded Show Your Soft Side, a public service campaign of photos of macho celebs cuddling with animals, accompanied by the slogan “Only a punk would hurt a cat or a dog.”

“It was really obvious that these kids aren’t going to listen to me,” says Riesett. “The people they look up to are big, strong athletes, rappers, rockers. So I just kept wondering if we could get them involved would [that] maybe [make] the kids take more notice.”

More than just the kids took notice. “Our big goal was to maybe raise enough money to put posters in city schools,” says Riesett. “Within weeks, we had over $200,000 worth of free media.”

Participating “softies” include everyone from Adam Jones of the Orioles and MMA fighter John Rallo, to Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and former Raven Torrey Smith.

On May 13, Show Your Soft Side will host Pawject Runway, a cocktail party/fashion show at Royal Farms Arena in which softies will “model” adoptable pets from Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS). All proceeds will benefit BARCS and Riesett promises a good time. “How can you not have a good time when you’ve got a glass of wine in one hand and a kitten in the other?”