BALTIMORE - He's acquired several titles since a photo of him cuddling a kitten went viral: online heartthrob, hunky cop, cat man.
But Baltimore police officer Jon Boyer doesn't see himself like that. He's just a regular guy who has a soft spot for animals.
"I’ve always loved animals and this was just a route to take to rescue them," he said.
Boyer and his squad have rescued dozens of cats and several dogs from the streets of Baltimore. The fame for Boyer came when the BARCS animal shelter posted a photo of him holding a kitten he had rescued while on duty. The photo quickly spread, getting picked up by media outlets like Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail. A viral star was born, and it's not what Boyer expected.
"We have officers throughout the city that save animals, it’s just that I got attention for it."
It's been quite an experience for Boyer since he became an Internet star. A Facebook fan page made in his honor jumped from a few hundred likes to more than 10,000. Articles on his rescue efforts continue to be written. While he doesn't crave the attention, he recognizes the good it is doing.
"A lot of people have changed their opinion of police officers, it’s brought attention to the rescue community, and its brought attention to BARCS," Boyer said.
The staff at BARCS couldn't be more appreciative of what Boyer and all the city officers do when it comes to helping stray animals.
"It’s huge that Boyer has really brought so much attention to us and its helped us get more animals adopted," said Lisa Morabito, director of operations at BARCS. "It's also getting more people into the idea of rescuing and saving animals."
For Boyer, his job is not just about protecting people. It's also about serving man's four-legged friend.