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Eleven-year-old boy mauled by a pack of pit bulls shares comforting update from hospital bed

An 11-year-old Georgia boy is recovering in the hospital after a pack of pit bulls viciously ripped half of his ear and 80 per cent of his scalp.

Justin Gilstrap has already undergone five surgeries following the pit bull attack on 6 January in Appling, a census-designated place near Augusta. Justin, who was riding a bike at the time of the incident, was dragged into a ditch by three dogs, the Augusta Chronicle reported.

His cousin heard screams and called their grandmother for help. While the woman tried to scare away the dogs with Justin’s bike, a neighbour pulled him to safety.

“[Justin’s grandmother] said there was just blood everywhere,” the boy’s mother, Ericka Gilstrap, told the Chronicle. “She couldn’t tell where he 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.”

Burt Baker, 26, the owner of the dogs, was briefly arrested on charges of reckless conduct before he was released on bond. Since the attack, Mr Baker surrendered seven pit bulls, local news station WRDW reported.

An incident report obtained by the Chronicle stated that Justin also suffered “puncture wounds” on his legs.

Justin Gilstrap is recovering in hospital ater being attacked by three pit bulls (Ericka Gilstrap)
Justin Gilstrap is recovering in hospital ater being attacked by three pit bulls (Ericka Gilstrap)

According to the outlet, Mr Baker had been given previous warnings regarding the ownership of the dogs, following different incidents with neighbours. However, the county was not able to remove them from Mr Baker’s residence because they had not attacked a human before.

“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,” Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson told WRDW.

“... 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.”

Meanwhile, Ms Gilstrap continues to document Justin’s recovery on her Facebook page. His next surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, having been on the operation table just Monday.

The county had previously received complaints about the dogs but was unable to remove them from the owner’s residence, the Augusta Chronicle reports (Ericka Gilstrap)
The county had previously received complaints about the dogs but was unable to remove them from the owner’s residence, the Augusta Chronicle reports (Ericka Gilstrap)

In a video update aired on WRDW, Justin thanked everyone following his story.

“Hey, everybody, I love y’all. I just want to let you know that I am okay,” he said from his hospital bed.

“I’m hoping he’s not going to have PTSD,” Ms Gilstrap told the Chronicle. “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.”

Ms Gilstrap also said that Mr Baker does not have a fence in his backyard, and the pit bulls usually run free. He was not at home when the incident took place.

“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.”