The 11-year-old Georgia boy who was mauled by a pack of pit bulls while riding his bike recorded a heartbreaking video from his hospital bed, saying, “I just want you to know I’m OK.”
When three vicious dogs attacked Justin Gilstrap after a soccer game near Grovetown on Jan. 6, he suffered devastating injuries, including the loss of an ear and 70% of his scalp.
He has undergone several surgeries but remains in good spirits after the harrowing ordeal, WRDW reported.
In the short clip, Justin quietly says: “Hey, everybody. I love y’all. I just want you to know, I’m OK.”
His mom, Ericka Gilstrap, told the Augusta Chronicle after the attack that her nephew, Mason Aguilar, 11, heard him screaming and found him in a ditch.
“By the time he got to him, he could see the dogs and that’s when he called 911,” she told the news outlet. “Justin was alone when it happened and that’s what is so heartbreaking to me. He knew he had to be home by 6 (p.m.) and he wasn’t getting in trouble.”
According to the outlet, Justin’s grandmother and a neighbor also rushed to the scene, where she used the bike to shoo the animals away while the boy put up a valiant fight by kicking them.
During the chaos, his grandmother was bitten in the forearm as well.
“She said there was just blood everywhere,” Ericka said, according to the Chronicle. “She couldn’t tell where the bleeding was coming from… “However, he was apparently bleeding from everywhere because every inch of his body is covered in a cut or bruise.”
She stated that her son will require psychological counseling once his physical wounds have healed.
“I’m hoping he’s not going to have PTSD,” Ericka said. “They did warn me that he probably will need some therapy, just to get him back to where he was. He’s sedated, so I don’t know what he remembers, but one time when he woke up, he had tears coming down his face because he started crying.”
Burt Baker, the pit bulls’ owner who has been charged with reckless conduct, told cops his dogs enjoy chasing people on bicycles.
Ericka said this is not the first time the animals were spotted roaming in the neighborhood.
“They’re always free. They don’t even have a fence in their backyard,” she told the Chronicle. “We would catch them in our yard. My dad made a report about the dogs being loose and those are the same dogs that attacked my sister’s Yorkie.”
Baker has admitted he was not home at the time of the attack on Justin, the Chronicle reported.
According to WRDW, he surrendered seven pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes after the incident.
Meanwhile, the Gilstraps used the hashtag #JustinTough to raise awareness about the young man’s ordeal.
“He’s fortunate to be alive, and it’s because he fought,” his mother told the Chronicle. “He’s stronger than I am. I doubt I could have accomplished half of what he did. He never cried in the emergency room. They were bragging about how polite and calm he was even in the ambulance.”