With one foot in front of the other and her boxing gloves on, Team USA boxer Marlen Esparza is ready to fight – this time outside of the ring.
“People need to treat animals like they would treat a kid,” says Esparza. “You have to take care of it, make sure they are happy and they have anything they need. If you don’t have the time, then you don’t need an animal.”
The Houston native says her love for animals came from lessons she learned from her own mother. Esparza remembers her mom driving her to school and pulling to the side of the road to pick up a stray dog and taking him to a shelter.
As part of the campaign, the first female American boxer to qualify for the Olympics during the London 2012 games is featured in an ad shot by professional photographer Robert Sebree, and a video that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look into the photo shoot. The video goes on to show graphic footage of animal cruelty, which Esparza says often helps get the message across.
“I want people to be aware of what is around them,” Esparza explains. “Just because they don’t want to deal with it, doesn’t mean they can shut it out.”
Esparza joins other athletes, like Tito Ortiz and Hannah Teter, who have worked with PETA to fight animal abuse.