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COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Justin Gilstrap, an 11-year-old Columbia County boy remains in the hospital after he was attacked by three dogs last week.
“No child should have to be afraid to ride a bike in their own neighborhood because they’re afraid a dog is going to attack them,” said Ericka Stevens, Justin’s mother.
Ericka’s son, Justin, was riding the bike he’d gotten for Christmas back home…trailing behind his older brother and cousin.
Before he could make it home, he was pulled into a ditch and attacked by three Pit bulls.
“If my nephew had not heard him screaming, he would’ve been dead in that ditch,” said Stevens.
Justin was taken to Augusta University Hospital by EMS.
According to his mother, over 80 percent of his body is covered in wounds, including his scalp and face.
“Even as his mom…I don’t even know where to touch him. Because there’s not an inch of him that is not covered in a bruise or cut…staple. It’s sad that it took my child ending up in this position for Columbia County to say, ‘hey, we’re going to do something about it’.”
Following the incident, Columbia County released a statement that said, in part: “Animal Services has had limited interactions with the owner of these particular dogs…” and “warnings for allowing the dogs to run free were issued”.
The owner of the dogs, Burt Baker III, was arrested and charged with reckless conduct before being released on bail.
Justin’s mother has set up a GoFundMe to cover medical bills. The goal has nearly been reached.
“When he finally wakes up, I’m going to be so glad for him to see how much he’s actually loved…he loves people, he loves hugs. Where we were taking him to the OR…he was coming out of sedation. And he looked at me and he was like, ‘hug! hug!’ So, they let the rails down and let me hug on him for a little bit before he went back.”
Doctors tell Justin’s mother the road to recovery will be long.
Still, she continues to have faith that her aspiring policeman will continue to be strong and full of joy.
“He fought. And he fought hard. I’m going to tell him how tough he is and that he did prove that he’s got it to be a policeman one day,” said Stevens. “And he’ll have a great testimony behind it.”
For more on Justin’s story and information on how to support, visit GoFundMe: Justin Gilstrap.