By Jill Rosen
The Baltimore Sun
8:46 AM EST, January 12, 2012
Last year Baltimore got to know a new movement pushing for the humane treatment of animals. Called "Show Your Soft Side," the campaign featured well-known, tough role models cuddling the pets they love and saying, "Only a punk would hurt a dog or cat."
The campaign, launched in the wake of some heart-breaking instances of animal abuse in Baltimore, is easiest to spot on billboards around town.
At the time the campaign rolled out, organizers promised there would be a contest where someone would be named "Baltimore Biggest Softie," with the chance to have their face, and their pet, on a billboard.
Well, the winner has just been announced.
His name is PJ Morrison, he's a doctor of physical therapy and a body builder. His story of his relationship with his dog, Bolt, vaulted him to the top of the entries, earning him the most votes from viewers of the Soft Side web site and Facebook page.
Here is what Morrison wrote, in his initial contest entry:
This is a picture of me and my dog BOLT. BOLT is my best friend and I would do anything for him. I got him as a puppy in September of 2010 and in December of 2010 I was diagnosed with cancer. He and I would cuddle when I was tired from treatments and he still cuddles with me every night. One thought that always ran though my mind was I have to get better so I can take care of him. Thankfully I am cancer free and I get to hang out with my buddy everyday. I look like a big tough guy but anytime I am around BOLT I am nothing but smiles.
PJ Morrison and BOLT
PJ’s billboard will go up in the beginning of February. People will be able to find it on the corner of Falls Rd. and 36th Street in Hampden. He'll also be featured in an ad in STYLE magazine and a guest appearance on 98 Rock.
Campaign creator Sande Riesett thinks Morrison perfectly fits the image of "Soft Side," a big, strong, guy who melts like a marshmellow when it comes to his pet -- and a guy willing to go the extra mile to take care of a furry one.
"In the end, I was really glad he won," she says. "He certainly fits the tough guy mold and yet is madly, sappily in love with his dog."
The original posters, featuring the likes of fighter John Rallo, the Ravens' Jarret Johnson and Adam Jones of the Orioles, are now avaiable at Eddie's stores, if you'd like to pick one up.
"I really believe the more attention we can continue bring to the issue," Riesett says, "the more seriously the city, county, state is going to take it."
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