At one time, pit bulls were considered to be just like any other beloved family pet.

The dogs were owned by Helen Keller, Fred Astaire and several presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter.

A bull terrier named Sergeant Stubby is hailed as "the most decorated war dog of World War I."

However, today, pit bulls have been branded as aggressive, dangerous dogs and are often banned from housing and even entire cities and counties.

In 2007, pit bull advocacy organization Bless the Bullies proposed a National Pit Bull Awareness Day to encourage advocates of the breed to host events that challenge pit bull stereotypes and encourage responsible pit bull ownership.

The seventh annual Pit Bull Awareness Day is Oct. 25, and even if there's not a scheduled event in your area, there's lots you can do to save pit bulls and help improve their image.

Foster or adopt a pit bull

Thousands of pit bulls end up in animal shelters because they're overbred, abandoned or abused. People can be hesitant to adopt these dogs because they've heard they can be aggressive, and, as a result, many pit bulls never leave shelters. If you're interested in making a pittie part of your family, check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' tips for adopting a pit bull.

Dispel myths

There are numerous myths about pit bulls — that they have locking jaws, that they're naturally aggressive, that they have more bite pressure than other breeds — that you can help combat. Educating people about pit bulls is one of the best ways to alleviate fear of the breed.

Fight breed-specific legislation

If your city or county has such legislation on the books or is considering passing such a law, make your voice heard. There are also numerous pit bull advocacy groups you can join to help combat such legislation.

Set a good example

One of the best ways to fight negative pit bull stereotypes is by incorporating your well-behaved pittie into your daily activities. Take your dog on walks, to the park and on errands and show the world what a loving pet your pit bull can be.

Pass on these puppies

If none of the above work, we suggest sharing these 14 adorable pit bull puppy photos with anyone who's still wary of pitties. We think you'll change some minds.

tiny pit bull puppy

Photo: Rock City Kennels/flickr

brown and white pit bull puppy

Photo: Jason Bacon/flickr

black pit bull puppy

Photo: Steph Skardal/flickr

puppy on couch

Photo: Sean Kirkpatrick/flickr

snuggling pit bull puppy

Photo: apathy_girl/flickr

black-and-white pit bull puppy

Photo: Fake Plastic Alice/flickr

pit bull puppy running

Photo: Steph Skardal/flickr

pit bull puppy with toy rope

Photo: Steph Skardal/flickr

brown pit bull puppy

Photo: Fake Plastic Alice/flickr

floppy-eared pit bull puppy

Photo: Ray Dumas/flickr

pit bull puppies playing

Photo: Steph Skardal/flickr

white pit bull puppy

Photo: odonata98/flickr

pit bull puppy in bandana

Photo: Pets Adviser/flickr

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