Family of boy mauled by dogs sues owner over attack, seeking punitive damages

Justin's road to recovery is long, but the 11-year-old said he won't give up. (SOURCE: WRDW)
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:22 PM CST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/Gray News) - The family of a boy who was mauled by three dogs has sued the owner of the pit bulls and is seeking compensatory damages along with punitive damages with “no limitation.”

WRDW reported that 11-year-old Justin Gilstrap was attacked by the dogs on Jan. 6 as he was riding his bike in Columbia County, Georgia.

The dogs reportedly ripped off most of Justin’s scalp, and the boy suffered wounds all the way to the bone on his legs. He also lost one of his ears, while the other ear had to be reattached.

“He has undergone and continues to undergo, extensive medical care and treatment,” the lawsuit said. “Despite this medical care and treatment, Justin Gilstrap will be left with permanent mental and physical injuries, including scarring and permanent disfigurement.”

Justin Gilstrap
Justin Gilstrap(Contributed)

The dogs in the attack and several others with the same owner have been euthanized since the attack.

Justin’s family is seeking punitive damages to deter the dogs’ owner, Burt Thomas Baker II, from ever letting something like this happen again. The family filed a lawsuit against Baker as well as a number of others believed to be involved.

Along with Baker, defendants in the suit include Brenda Johnson and several others the lawsuit calls John and Jane Does who Justin’s family said believed contributed to the problem.

The lawsuit said the defendants are liable for all damages sustained by Justin, “including his medical expenses, physical and mental pain and suffering past, present, and future, and his permanent scarring and disfigurement.”

The lawsuit alleges Baker and Johnson failed to take reasonable steps to prevent their dogs from attacking Justin.

As a result, “there is no limitation regarding the amount to be awarded as punitive damages,” states the lawsuit.


With the filing of the suit, Baker and Johnson have 30 days to respond. Then, there will be a discovery process which could take around six months before a trial date is set.

Despite being confined to the hospital, WRDW reports Justin has shown remarkable resilience and optimism that’s drawn support from around the world.

Justin’s mother said some days for him in the Children’s Hospital of Georgia are good while some are not so good.

Through his challenges, Justin said he’s a fighter.

“I don’t give up. I don’t give up for nothing,” he said.

His road to recovery is long but he’s taking it one day and one surgery at a time.

“I’m looking to get better and walk again, being able to walk,” he said.

He showed he was able to walk by taking a few steps.

“It made me happy,” Justin said. “I was proud of myself to be able to walk again.”