Loved by many, October is mainly known for things like Halloween, foliage, apple picking and Pumpkin Fest, of course, for us Keene State College students. 

What many don’t know about October, however, is that it is National Pit Bull Awareness Month.

Having two pit bulls myself, it has always appalled me that so much fear, prejudice and violence is so often associated with this beautiful breed.

This being said, since I like to assume the best in people until given a reason to believe otherwise, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to pits. Just assuming they are vicious is not a fair assumption to make.

Pit bulls are such a misunderstood breed that it is no wonder there are so many awful stereotypes associated with them.  For example, I’m not perfect, and by referring to my family’s dogs as “pit bulls,” I am making one of the most common mistakes.

According to the Mid-America Bully Breed Rescue [MABBR] the term “pit bull” is not even a breed, but a type, and there are as many as 25 breeds of dog that are commonly considered “Pit Bulls.” Mine are shelter dogs and though there is no way of knowing their exact breed without getting DNA tests, they are primarily American Staffordshire Terriers.

I’m a big fan of the phrase “Judge the deed, not the breed,” because I think it is so true.  As children, we grow up being told not to judge a book by its cover.  That we should get to know someone’s personality instead of making assumptions based on what they look like. Shouldn’t the same rule apply to dogs?  Sure, pits may be big and muscular, but I’ve met Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas more vicious than my dogs.

I’m also a strong believer that there are no bad dogs, but bad owners. If a dog is trained well, it will behave. But if a dog is taught to hate, that’s what it will do.        Since October is also a month for football, let’s look at Michael Vick. Admittedly, I’m not much of a football girl, but I sure do know his name.

He is a back-up quarterback for the New York Jets, and a disgusting excuse of a human being. It’s been seven years since Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels was exposed.

For those unfamiliar, Bad Newz Kennels was an operation run by Vick and three others in which they bought, housed and trained more than 50 pit bulls to fight each other to the death, and gambled on what the results would be.

Dogs who didn’t perform well in the fights were shot, electrocuted, hung, drowned or tortured. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, “They killed one dog by slamming it to the ground several times before it died, breaking the dog’s back or neck,” and they, “Thought it was funny to watch the pit bull dogs belonging to Bad Newz Kennels injure or kill other dogs.” Michael Vick was eventually sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison because of his actions, but after 18 he was released to spend the next two months confined to house arrest.

In December of 2010, after Vick was released and had been back playing in the NFL, he stated that he would like to have a dog again as a family pet.

Thankfully, many of the surviving dogs from Vick’s operation were rescued, rehabilitated and given safe, loving homes.  But those who were not as lucky should not be forgotten. Pit bulls receive enough hatred and discrimination as it is without the help of monsters like Vick.

My dog Spike is the most caring, affectionate creature I’ve ever met. I am so thankful that he is an American Staffordshire Terrier, so that he can continue to prove the stereotypes wrong.


Rebecca Falk can be contacted at

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