Dog owner out on bond after 11-year-old hospitalized for dog attack

Burt Baker III, owner of three pit bulls involved in attack, is out on bond
A Georgia family says their 11-year-old was sent to the hospital after being attacked by three dogs. (Source: WRDW)
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 10:38 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2023 at 6:06 PM EST
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - An 11-year-old was sent to Augusta University Hospital after being attacked by three dogs on Friday night in Grovetown, according to the family.

In an incident report from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, it says the attack happened on Langston Drive. Deputies arrived at the family home on the same street around 6:30 p.m. Friday and found 11-year-old Justin Gilstrap being treated by fire crews for injuries.

Deputies say Justin’s scalp was halfway torn off, had deep puncture wounds on both legs, and half of his ear had been bitten off.

Ericka Stevens Gilstrap, the mother of the victim, says her son told her he was riding his bike when one pit bull started barking at him and then grabbed his leg. A second pit bull then came up and grabbed him on his bottom.

That’s when he fell off the bike and a third pit bull then came up and dragged him into a ditch.

The family says he was eventually rushed in for emergency surgery.

“There’s a possibility he could be missing part of his ear. They can’t see it was his other ear. He’s got cartilage hanging,” Gilstrap says. “They had to quit taking his blood pressure because there was nowhere good to do it. So they finally put it on his arm and he was screaming, but they’re giving him fentanyl and morphine and he’s been pretty calm. He’s been a trooper.”

Ericka says her 11-year-old nephew is the one who called 911 after discovering Justin in the ditch.

“He has not cried. He’s not. He said ‘I’m gonna be tough.’ I was like, ‘You’re tougher than me because I’ve probably been hysterical,’” said Ericka.

The family says they have reported these dogs to Columbia County Sheriff’s Office several times before. Ericka says she filed her first report last year and says neighbors have also made reports and complaints.

The owner of the three dogs, Burt Baker III, arrived on the scene and told deputies the dogs were his. He told officers the dogs like to chase people on bicycles.

After learning from animal control the owner has had previous reports and warnings in the past, deputies charged Baker with reckless conduct.

Saturday morning, the family told News 12 saying the child is in a medically induced coma. As of Sunday evening, they say 11-year-old Justin is out of his first surgery, but more have already been scheduled for the week.

Ericka Gilstrap says more of Justin’s scalp had to be removed down to his neck, his leg has two large wounds that could not be closed, and while his left ear was able to be repaired, it now has an infection.

She says Justin remains on a breathing machine and is sedated for the time being.

“Having my grandson almost drown and spending days in the PICU, I can totally empathize. My heart hurts for Justin and his family. No parent or child should have to endure a horrible situation like this. We will continue to pray for his recovery,” Chairman Duncan stated earlier Sunday.

The Board of Commissioners says the matter has been turned over to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and they have made an arrest. The incident is under further investigation.

Major Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office now confirms that Baker is out on a $1,100 bond.

News 12 will continue to provide updates as this story develops.