The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Bill Sanders on one group’s efforts to disassociate themselves from the stigma of Michael Vick.  Not the Falcons, either.

Saturday, at Atlanta’s Central Park, two pit bulls and dozens of pit bull owners gathered for the first Pit Bull Awareness Day. Their mission: to dispel myths.

“These are highly misunderstood dogs,” Shari Brewer said. “Because they are popular to breed and some irresponsible owners think it’s a macho thing and they encourage aggression and fighting, people think that’s what pit bulls are.

“If you isolate them, beat them and teach aggressiveness, that’s what you get. But these dogs are very people-oriented dogs by nature.”

Though this wasn’t meant to be a day for people to bring their dogs to the park, Willie Grimes couldn’t resist.

He had been given a month-old puppy he named Scarface. He brought Scarface and a ton of questions. He left with some answers and a lot of freebies.

“He was given to me as a tip,” said Grimes, who drives a tow truck. “We wanted to get information of how to train him to not be aggressive, because right now, he’s nipping at everything. I’ve only had him four days, though.”

Most folks at the park Saturday said they thought news of the Vick case has indeed made this breed of dogs a little more likable to the general public.

“It has helped in a couple of ways,” Brewer said of the attention brought to pit bulls by Michael Vick, the Falcons quarterback facing federal dogfighting charges. “Kids see that a popular sports figure can go down for something like this, they see that it is a big deal and taken seriously. And it did make the pit bull a little more sympathetic than it has been.”