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Nathan Flynn used his bike to fend off bull mastiff that was attacking two girls

A cyclist from Middlesbrough has received a bravery award from the police after using his bike to fend off a dog that was attacking a young girl who later needed to have 55 stitches as a result of her wounds.

Gazzette Live reports that the dog, a bull mastiff, had already attacked an 11-year-old boy whom it dragged of its bike before turning its attention on two girls.

Cyclist Nathan Flynn, aged 29, was riding along Waterloo Road in November last year when he came across what he described as a “really big bull mastiff savaging a girl.”

The unemployed asbestos stripper said: “The dog had the girl on the floor and was biting her back and neck.

“If she had been on her back it could have got to her face and it would have had her throat.

“I dropped my bike and shouted at the dog trying to draw it away from the girl, who looked about seven or eight years old.

“I tried dragging its collar, but it pulled the girl with it because it had its teeth into her. It was horrible.”

The cyclist punched the dog in the back of its head, but it retaliated, biting his arms – the newspaper says he still bears scars – and when the girl attempted to run away, the animal chased and caught her, pinning the child to the ground.

According to Mr Flynn, a pair of men “were just stood around” as he tried to summon help, something he said “really annoyed me”.

He continued: “I went back to my bike and started hitting the dog again and again with my bike.

“In the end I had to put my bike over the girl to stop it getting her.”

Mr Flynn said that the police then arrived at the scene together with the dog’s owner, who called to it “and it went straight over”.

As he rode away, a police officer stopped him and took his details.

“I just thought I’d done a good deed for the day, but the officer said ‘You have been a hero,’” he recalled.

He subsequently visited the girl in hospital where she had required 37 stitches to her head and a further 18 to her arm. The other girl involved also needed hospital treatment.

Following the attack, the dog was destroyed. Its owner had been due to appear in court in January this year on charges of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place and cause injury, but died beforehand.

Peter Bell, the Chief Constable and High Sheriff of Durham, presented Mr Flynn with his award last month, with the commendation citing another man who tried to prevent the attack.

It read: “But without the brave intervention of the men the girls’ injuries would have been far worse”.

Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Jacqui Cheer, said that Mr Flynn had shown outstanding bravery and said: “We hold these ceremonies so that we can recognise the brave officers, staff and public within Cleveland.

“It is particularly poignant to show our appreciation to those members of the public who have shown great bravery, selflessness and disregard for their own safety, especially as they have often had no training or prior experience of being in a potentially dangerous situation.”

We've covered several stories in the past of cyclists who have been praised for their quick thinking after coming across an emergency while riding their bike.

In November last year, a female bike rider in South Wales was described as a "heroine" after she dived into Swansea Marina to save a woman lying face down in freezing water at Swansea Marina. She cycled off afterwards without leaving her name.

The previous year, a male cyclist jumped into the River Ouse in York to rescue a four-month-old girl after her pram rolled into the river when her mother let go of it. In that incident too the man pedalled off without disclosing his identity.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.