Justin Gilstrap, 11, suffered major injuries in a dog attack after a pack of three pit bulls belonging to a neighbor broke free and chased the boy down before mauling him in a ditch.
According to a report in The Daily Mail, the horrific incident occurred on Jan. 6 in Columbia County, Georgia. Officials say the boy lost 70% of his scalp in the gruesome dog attack.
Owner Charged with Reckless Conduct After Pit Bull Attack
The victim was riding his bike outside his house when he was attacked by the dogs. One of the pit bulls clamped down on his leg before the others joined in, pulling him off the road and into a nearby ditch. The dogs tore chunks off his scalp, ears, chest, and legs. Their owner later admitted that his dogs liked to chase bicycles. Doctors placed Justin in a medically induced coma as they fought to stop the bleeding. They eventually managed to close his wounds, which helped save his life.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Justin’s medical bills. Officials said the dogs ripped one of his ears apart in the attack. The dogs were confiscated by animal control officials shortly after the pit bull attack. The dog’s owner, Burt Baker III, had been the subject of several complaints in connection with his dogs. Baker was taken into custody and charged with reckless conduct.
In her GoFundMe post, Justin’s mother Ericka Gilstrap said she had lodged several complaints with local officials about the dogs, but county officials did not do anything about it. “It’s sad it took this for them to finally do something,” she said. Ericka Gilstrap also stated on the GoFundMe page that her son still has a feeding tube and will have to undergo more surgery.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Justin Gilstrap and his family. It appears at this point that he has a long road to recovery.
Dog Bite Statistics
There is no question that dog bites pose a serious health risk to communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States. More than 800,000 people receive medical attention for dog bites. At least half of those who are bitten are children.
Nearly one in five people who are bitten by dogs need medical attention. Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured. A number of dog attacks that injure children tend to occur during everyday activities or even while engaging with familiar dogs. It is important to remember that any dog can bite.
However, the more severe dog attack cases – those that involve catastrophic injuries or fatalities – often involve pit bulls.
According to the advocacy group Dogsbite.org, there were 48 dog-bite-related deaths in the U.S. in 2019. In spite of being regulated in Military Housing areas and in over 900 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 69% of these deaths. Pit bulls only make up about 8% of the total U.S. population. During the 15-year period from 2005 to 2019, dogs killed 521 people in the United States.
Two dog breeds – pit bulls and rottweilers – contributed to 76% of these deaths. Also, 35 different dog breeds were involved in the remaining fatal maulings. In 2019 alone, the combination of pit bulls, American bulldogs, rottweilers, and mastiff-type guard dogs and war dogs – the breeds often used to create fighting breeds – accounted for 81% of all dog bite-related deaths.
We understand that no breed is inherently bad. Some breeds have more challenging behavioral traits than others, but a dog’s willingness to bite often comes down to its training (or lack thereof), and the circumstances it is in. This pit bull attack is the latest in a long line of incidents involving this breed.
Dog Bite Laws
California has a strict liability statute when it comes to dog attacks, which means dog owners can be held accountable for attacks by their pets, irrespective of whether they happen on public or private property. In addition, dog owners can be held financially responsible for a bite incident. Owner liability applies even if the dog has not attacked before or if the owner was not aware that their dog was dangerous, or had not been deemed dangerous or vicious by local officials.
However, Georgia laws are different. While the state does allow dog attack victims to recover compensation from negligent dog owners and keepers, plaintiffs must show that the dog owner was aware of prior attacks or dangerous behavior, or that the owner failed to properly secure the animal. It must also be proven that the victim did not provoke the dog.
Anyone injured by a dog, such as the victim of this pit bull attack, should contact an expert attorney for information on how to proceed according to your state’s laws.
Understanding Your Rights
Dog owners have a responsibility to make sure that their pets are properly secured and don’t pose a danger to their neighbors and community members. If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, it is important that you file a report with animal control authorities. It is also critical that the dog’s owner or caretaker is identified.
Get prompt medical attention, care, and treatment for your dog bite injuries. Try to get as much evidence from the scene as possible, including photos and videos of the scene and your injuries. Save any pieces of evidence, such as torn or bloody clothing. Contact an experienced dog bite lawyer who will make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive maximum compensation for your losses.
Injured dog bite victims may be able to seek compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost income, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disfigurement, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Victims may also be able to get compensation for the cost of cosmetic surgery and psychological counseling, as dog attacks often leave victims with physical and emotional scars. A knowledgeable dog attack lawyer can help guide you through a complex legal process during a difficult and challenging time in your life.