The victims of a brutal pit bull attack that happened last fall are speaking out about their long road to recovery and the pending charges against the man who was supposed to be watching the dogs during the mauling.
On November 27, 2011, brothers Richard and John Garritson – who were 21 and 20 years old at the time, respectively -- were out on a family run in Valley Center when they were attacked by a pack of as many as six loose pit bulls.
In an effort to protect their sisters and other family members running with them, Richard and John suffered multiple severe bite wounds.
At the dog owner’s request, four of the pit bulls were euthanized following the attack.
Ten months later, the North County brothers are still recovering from serious bites and dealing with painful memories from that day.
The Garritson brothers told NBC 7 San Diego they still have anger toward the owner of the dogs and the man who was supposed to be looking after the pit bulls.
“I really did think I was going to die that night. I thought in my head, I wasn’t going to make it out,” recalled Richard.
Richard still remembers the throbbing pain from the severe leg wounds he sustained in the mauling.
“[It felt] like a knife going into your muscle and just tearing. It was the most painful thing I could ever imagine,” he said.
The pit bull attack has literally left the brothers scarred for life.
For John, the physical pain and scars are daily reminders of the incident.
“[I feel] constant pressure. [It’s] agonizing. Not being able to feel much nerve feeling. Even now there’s some nerve damage, so it’s been aggravating,” said John.
The man who was supposed to be caring for the pit bulls at the time of the attack, 40-year-old Jose Ledesma, was charged by the district attorney’s office Tuesday.
Ledesma, who was looking after the dogs for a friend, has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of failing to protect the public from dogs and two misdemeanor counts of failing to restrain a dog. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Sep. 24 and could face up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.
For the brothers, the charges against Ledesma are long overdue.
“I felt a sense of relief that at least something was being done about the whole thing,” said Richard.
John would like to see justice go a step further, by also charging the owner of the pit bulls.
“They could be used as an example. If you're going to raise those kinds of reputations, such as pit bulls -- why not go after the owners themselves?” John said.
The Garritson brothers are part of an elite running family, according to our media partner North County Times.
These days, they’re getting back into running, but with varying degrees of success.
“Now, my younger sister is able to beat me and it's difficult to stay with them,” said John.
“I’m determined. I’m going to be the best I can be,” added Richard.
John still has outstanding medical bills stemming from the pit bull attack. Those who are interested in donating toward John’s continued recovery can do so by visiting this website.