Shogun Fights has teamed up with the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, also known as BARCS, to help sheltered animals in Baltimore.
Shogun Fights is a mixed martial arts organization that showcases some of the most talented MMA fighters in Baltimore.
And the MMA fighters aren't just tough on their opponents, they are also combating animal cruelty.
Shogun Fights owner and former MMA fighter John Rallo began advocating for animals as a member of the "Show Your Soft Side" campaign.
"I was one of the original people they came to to be a spokesman. I've been involved with it since the beginning," said Rallo.
The "Show Your Soft Side" campaign uses local celebrities to bring attention to the frequency of animal abuse in Baltimore. It is part of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's initiative to prevent and prosecute acts of animal cruelty in Baltimore.
"Many of the more horrific cases have been perpetrated by teens, thus leading the Mayor's Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission to look for ways to change the mindset of young people who often view the maiming and torturing of defenseless dogs and cats as a sign of 'toughness' or 'manhood,'" according to the Show Your Soft Side Facebook page.
Rallo said his toughness is one of the reasons the mayor asked him to participate in the campaign. "I'm a big guy and I'm covered in tattoos from the waist up," said Rallo.
While he may appear tough, Rallo has a "soft side" for the animals and continues to make efforts to ensure their well-being.
At the Shogun fight at 1st Mariner Arena on Saturday, Oct. 20, Shogun Fights will hold an animal food drive with BARCS. In addition to food, the volunteers will also be accepting pet toys and monetary donations.
"I hope people will come to the fight, and bring something for the animals or donate a couple dollars to BARCS," said Rallo. "It's going to a good cause."
BARCS has helped over 11,000 unwanted, abused and stray animals. They house cats, dogs and even wildlife and exotic animals. The organization is committed to making cruelty for animals a felony in hopes of preventing the brutal treatment some animals endure.
If you would like to contribute to BARCS or want more information about the shelter, visit their website at baltimoreanimalshelter.org. To purchase tickets to the Shogun Fights event and animal food drive, visit shogunfights.com or call 410-347-2010.