Daventry police officer praised as a hero after using himself as a human shield to protect woman from ‘aggressive and unpredictable’ dog

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A police officer is being recognised as a hero after he attended an incident in Daventry, protecting a member of the public while a “dangerous, out-of-control” dog was running around the garden.

Police constable (PC) Matt O’Brien used his body to shield a woman in her garden who was attacked by a dog, causing a significant neck injury and a bite to her upper arm.

A young girl who had sustained serious head injuries was also at the house in Daventry.

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After ensuring the safety of the victims, PC Matt O’Brien has now been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards 2024.

Police constable (PC) Matt O’Brien pictured. Credit: Police Federation of England and WalesPolice constable (PC) Matt O’Brien pictured. Credit: Police Federation of England and Wales
Police constable (PC) Matt O’Brien pictured. Credit: Police Federation of England and Wales

Chair of Northamptonshire Police Federation (NPP) Sam Dobbs said: “This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced a serious incident involving a dangerous, out-of-control dog in Daventry and I recognise that those incidents are still very much felt by the community, as well as our officers. What's more, we are all very much aware of the potential danger and risk that can be caused in these situations.

“Despite this, Matt put his own life on the line that day. He came face-to-face with danger, and in true policing style, prioritised the safety of the public instead of his own. His actions undoubtedly saved the lives of both the young girl and the woman.”

An incident of two dogs attacking a woman and a young girl at a house in Daventry was reported to Northamptonshire Police on July 8, 2023.

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PC Matt O’Brien arrived as one of the first officers on the scene while the incident unfolded.

He was informed that the woman and young girl, who had sustained serious injuries, had been attacked by one of the dogs.

The child had been moved to a neighbouring property by members of the public, who had also managed to lock one of the dogs, which reportedly calmed down inside the house.

The injured woman and the other dog were still in the garden.

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PC O’Brien left the young girl with his colleagues so he could locate the dog and the second victim, who was reportedly bleeding heavily from her injuries.

Matt climbed over the fence and entered the garden, as the officers needed to get to her quickly to provide emergency first aid.

The only items he had to try to protect the victim and himself were a dog pole and a Police Support Unit shield.

The public's attempts to stop the dog from attacking resulted in serious injuries to the dog, who was running around the garden at the time.

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The Police Federation of England and Wales’ statement reads: “The dog was extremely aggressive and unpredictable. He placed himself between the injured woman and the dangerous dog, creating a sterile area allowing other officers to provide emergency first aid and remove the victim to a place of safety.”

Using the dog pole, Matt secured the dog and moved it further away from the victim and officers, protecting both of them and enabling the casualty's evacuation.

Northamptonshire Police’s Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet said: “I am very proud to see PC Matt O’Brien nominated for this award. Matt’s quick thinking and decisive actions when attending this distressing unfolding incident ensured essential medical care could swiftly be given to a seriously injured woman.

“At no small risk to himself, Matt put himself between the casualty and a dog that was clearly dangerous, going on to secure it with the limited means at his disposal and demonstrating true courage and bravery in the service of his community. I wish Matt all the best for the awards – he would be a worthy winner and embodies the selfless bravery shown day in, day out, by police officers across the country.”

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Both victims were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, which were later confirmed to not be life-changing.

Sam Dobbs added: “Everyone here at NPP is extremely proud of Matt and wishes him the best of luck at this year’s awards.”