‘I’m worried about him’: Mom talks about son’s recovery after dog attack

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:29 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re learning all seven dogs that attacked 11-year-old Justin Gilstrap have been euthanized, according to Columbia County officials.

That includes the three dogs that attacked Justin and the four puppies turned over by the owner.

Justin has come a long way since he was attacked in Grovetown. He’s had five surgeries, with another postponed to Thursday.

We’re hearing from his mom, Erika Stevens, on his recovery journey and what’s to come.

She says she has been by Justin’s side since the beginning and hasn’t left the Children’s Hospital of Georgia since the attack. She’s trying to stay positive through the surgeries with a long road ahead.

“I’m just mentally and physically exhausted. I don’t sleep. I’m worried about him,” said Stevens.

She says Justin is starting to remember more of the day his life changed forever.


“He told me that he remembers just kicking, kicking as hard as he could. He said he does remember the one dog pulling him into the ditch and he was worried he was going to drown because his head was surrounded by water. He said he remember they were on him and he kept sinking. He said he was more worried about that and just kicking, kicking, and swinging his arms,” she said.

A week and a half after the attack, he was finally able to walk.

Justin Gilstrap
Justin Gilstrap(Contributed)

“He was very excited, so it made me excited. Every time they brag on him a little bit like, ‘Oh, Justin, you’re doing so good.’ They’d reach over to help him, and he’d say, ‘I can do it. I’m tough’,” said Stevens.

Justin’s toughness is now being seen internationally. His mom says he’s getting packages from London, Australia, and every state in the United States is checked off. A community is rallying behind this tough 11-year-old.

“He’s seeing there’s still good in people and he is seeing that. It’s gotten him off of the bad part of this and seeing the good part of it. Which is what I hoped for,” said Stevens.

Seeing the good in all details of the situation, including Justin being bald for the rest of his life.

“He likes all these Georgia hats and beanies coming to him. That’s put a positive spin on him crying about not being able to have hair again,” she said.

His mom says he’s wanting to be better by football season so he can go to a University of Georgia game.