No child should ever have to experience what now defines young Justin Gilstrap‘s life. The 11-year-old was severely mauled while playing feet from his Georgia home by a pack of pit bulls, but he is a fighter. And he wants everyone to know he is “OK.”
WARNING: The images from Justin and his family are extremely graphic
A day that started like any other would end in horrible tragedy for Justin. While riding his bike in his Grovetown neighborhood, Justin was set upon by multiple pit bulls; a specific, dangerous pack owned by another neighborhood resident. The attack took place on his street after a soccer match on January 6, and his injuries are perhaps the most severe of any child to survive such an event.
Justin has puncture wounds, bruises, and lacerations across his entire body. But it was his head that the dogs would target. The pit bulls tore off 70% of his scalp, one of his ears, and mauled his face.
Justin is a fighter, though, and has been healing in the hospital for the last two weeks. Multiple surgeries have aided his survival. Now, he has a response to the mass outpouring of love and support.
“Hey, everybody. I love y’all. I just want you to know, I’m OK,” Justin offers in a video recorded for local 12 26 News.
Now able to quietly speak, his mother helped Justin get a message out to America as millions follow his recovery. And as we do, the owner of the pit bulls is being brought to justice.
Owner of Pit Bulls Arrested After Mauling of Justin Gilstrap
According to the outlet, Burt Baker of Langston Drive is responsible for the grievous injuries to 11-year-old Justin. Baker would surrender a total of seven pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes. It is unknown which of the seven dogs are to blame for the attack. But the community has dealt with a string of Baker’s dogs attacking other neighborhood pets. Justin, however, was the first person, which allowed authorities to act.
“I’m not saying Columbia County always does everything right. But in this instance, we follow the protocol,” explains Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson. “We’re not naive to the fact that there may be vicious dogs out there. They just have to attack somebody before the county can do anything.”
A grim, but true, statement. But Columbia Co. authorities are relieved to finally be able to bring Justin’s family, and their neighborhood, a bit of peace.
“If we were dealing with a situation where we’ve had dogs attack people in the past, and the county did nothing, then we’d be dealing with a different incident. In this particular case, we have a child that was attacked. We immediately responded by impounding the animals and issuing 15 citations and turning it over to the sheriff’s office who made an arrest,” Johnson reveals of the vicious pit bulls and their owner.
The full extent of charges against Baker are unknown. For now, Justin is far more deserving of our energy and thoughts. Here’s to a continued recovery, young man.