This is absolutely tragic and graphic…
11-year-old Justin Gilstrap of Appling, Georgia, was riding his bicycle on Friday, January 6 when a group of pit bulls reportedly ripped part of the boy’s scalp from his head and caused numerous other injuries.
When the dogs targeted Justin, they broke free from a neighbor’s yard and attacked. One dog bit Justin’s leg, which allowed the other dogs to close in and go for the Georgia boy’s head. They tore off pieces of his scalp, his ears, his chest, and even from his legs. The dogs nearly killed Justin before they ran off to find something else to occupy their time.
The boy lost 70% of his scalp as a result of the mauling and suffered injuries across his body.
His mom, Ericka Stevens witnessed the blood bath.
“She said there was just blood everywhere,” Ericka said. “She couldn’t tell where she was bleeding from … but apparently he was bleeding from everywhere because there’s not an inch of his body that is not covered in a cut or bruise.”
Justin’s family said authorities have since euthanized the three dogs that attacked him while he has had multiple surgeries since the attack. But despite the ordeal, the boy’s family said he is maintaining a positive spirit. On Tuesday, they shared a photo of Justin giving a thumbs-up from a wheelchair while trying to walk with crutches at the hospital.
As of Friday, Jan. 27, Justin will have undergone eight surgeries, his mom, Ericka Stevens, shared on Facebook — and he’s expected to be at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia for at least another month before moving to another hospital for additional rehabilitation.
A Facebook group called “Following the story of Justin Gilstrap” has grown to more than 22,500 supporters in the three weeks since the attack. Members of the group are from as far away as Australia.
Thankfully, generous people have been donating money to Justin’s GoFundMe account, which was set up by his dedicated mother. The family has raised more than $220,000 for Justin’s mounting medical expenses. In America, it costs victims a lot of money to get the recovery care they need to return to the life they had before such an attack.
Meanwhile, authorities said the dogs’ owner, Burt Baker, signed custody of the animals over to the county after the incident. Baker faces charges of reckless conduct.
“If you keep a vicious animal, and they attack somebody. Under Georgia law, you’re responsible,” said law firm owner Jacque Hawk.
According to an arrest warrant, Baker allowed his dogs to run free while knowing that they posed a risk to people on bicycles, after having been warned by animal control about them running around.
Baker is currently out on bond and does own other dogs not involved directly with the attack.
Authorities said the rest of Baker’s dogs are also expected to have a case heard in court. When that happens, Hawk said the judge will check to see if the other dogs are trainable.
“I think it’s a discretionary matter with the judge, if he thinks the dogs are vicious, and they’re going to remain vicious, and they’re a danger, they can put all the dogs down,” Hawk said.
Last week, Justin was able to greet visitors who came to the hospital, according to the family. And since his attack, the #Justintough campaign has been gaining attention on social media.
“Hey, everybody. I love y’all. I just want you to know, I’m OK,” Justin said in a shared video message from his family.
Watch the heartwarming message of the boy, such a brave angel: