A BRAVE dog has been awarded the animal equivalent of the George Cross after protecting its owner from a gang wielding machetes.

Staffordshire bull terrier Oi was posthumously honoured with the highest award for civilian animal bravery, the PDSA Gold Medal.

The 15-year-old pet leapt into action when a gang armed with machetes forced their way into her family’s home in July 2008.

Owner Patricia Adshead, of Maxey Road, Plumstead, was making a cup of tea when three men wearing balaclavas broke into her home.

Her ex-husband came running downstairs to help.

Ms Adshead said: “He kicked one of them down the stairs but another severed his hand. It was hanging by a thread.”

The 62-year-old added: “I was trapped in the kitchen with Oi and one of the men. He raised the machete over my head.

“Oi jumped up and bit his hand. He brought the machete down on her head but she still chased him out of the house.

“If she hadn’t gone for him I would have been dead. She saved my life.”

Oi was rushed to the Thamesmead PDSA PetAid hospital, The Freda Powell Centre, in Eynsham Drive.

The mother of four said: “The PDSA saved her life. They did a fantastic job and gave her another two years.

“I only wish Oi could have lived long enough to accept her medal.”

Oi died from cancer in March.

The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals charity gives free health care to animals owned by people on low incomes.