Warning: Graphic images
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.”
Justin Gilstrap suffered devastating injuries on Jan. 6, including the loss of an ear and 70% of his scalp, when the three ferocious dogs attacked him after a game of soccer near Grovetown.
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.”
Justin’s grandmother and a neighbor also rushed to the scene, where she used the bike to shoo the animals away as the boy put up a valiant fight by kicking them, according to the outlet.
His grandmother also was bitten in the forearm during the chaos.
“She said there was just blood everywhere,” Ericka told the Chronicle. “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.”
She said her son will need psychological counseling after he heals from the physical wounds.
“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.
He surrendered seven pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes after the incident, according to WRDW.
Meanwhile, the Gilstraps created the hashtag #JustinTough to spread awareness about the boy’s ordeal.
“He’s lucky to be alive and it’s because he put up that fight,” his mom told the Chronicle. “He’s tougher than me. I don’t think I could have done half of what he did. He never shed a tear in the emergency room. Even in the ambulance, they were bragging about how polite and calm he was.”