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North Kentville teen hailed as a hero for stopping dog attack

Claire Handley, right, comes face to face with Brooklyn Duncan, the 15-year-old girl who intervened when Handley was being attacked by two pit bulls in North Kentville in August 2017. Handley proudly watched as Kings West MLA Leo Glavine formally recognized Brooklyn for her efforts during a brief presentation in Kentville March 19.
Claire Handley, right, comes face to face with Brooklyn Duncan, the 15-year-old girl who intervened when Handley was being attacked by two bulldog mixes in North Kentville in August 2017. Handley proudly watched as Kings West MLA Leo Glavine formally recognized Brooklyn for her efforts during a brief presentation in Kentville March 19. - Ashley Thompson

'She was this angel that saved me'

KENTVILLE - Fifteen-year-old Brooklyn Duncan is quick to dismiss any claims that she’s a hero.

But Claire Handley shudders at the thought of what her life would be like if Brooklyn had not been in the right place, at the right time, around 1:40 p.m. on Aug. 30, 2017.

Handley was visiting a home in North Kentville to purchase items she saw listed on an online yard-sale website. She knocked on the door, and when it opened three dogs rushed out. One of the dogs ran off, but two went for Handley. A Kings District RCMP report from the incident classified the attacking dogs as bulldog mixes.

“I fell backwards off the step and hit my head on the pavement. I put my arms up and they grabbed my arms and then went after me on my chest. It seemed like forever - a blur,” Handley recalled.

“I remember screaming and then the dogs ran off, so I guess that’s when Brooklyn had come up.”

Brooklyn heard Handley’s screams while walking by the home on her way to a nearby trail.

“I ran up to them and I just stomped my feet on the ground repeatedly and showed them that I wasn’t scared of them,” the Northeast Kings Education Centre (NKEC) student said in an interview March 19.

The Grade 10 student was focused on getting the dogs off of Handley long enough to bring her to her feet.

“There was blood everywhere,” said Brooklyn.

Handley vividly remembers seeing a dog’s face inch closer to hers moments before Brooklyn caused a distraction.

“It was terrifying,” the Berwick resident said.

“I don’t know how I stood up but I remember this person I thought was an adult had their arms around me, saying ‘It’s going to be OK.’ I was floored when I found out it was a 15-year-old… she was very calm.”

Brooklyn Duncan, 15, receives a hug from her father, Andrew Duncan, after being recognized for her brave intervention in the face of danger during a dog attack in August 2017.
Brooklyn Duncan, 15, receives a hug from her father, Andrew Duncan, after being recognized for her brave intervention in the face of danger during a dog attack in August 2017.

The injuries resulted in 43 stitches, nerve damage in one arm and 16 staples in the back of Handley’s head. As bad as it was, Handley is certain the outcome would have been far worse without Brooklyn’s fearless intervention.

“She was this angel that saved me,” she said.

“It could have been much worse. The dogs could have done whatever.”

Handley said an owner of the dogs was also trying to get the situation under control, and her sole purpose for sharing her story is to publicly thank Brooklyn for rushing to her aid.

“I feel badly for the people that own the dogs. They certainly had no intention harming anyone, or anything like that. It’s just an unfortunate event that happened and… they must feel horrible,” said Handley.

“I don’t want any anguish for them. I don’t wish any ill on them.”

Brooklyn’s friends and family gathered in the council chambers for the Municipality of the County of Kings March 19 to watch Kings West MLA Leo Glavine present Brooklyn with a framed copy of a formal resolution he read aloud in the legislature in recognition of her bravery.

“Through her courageous and selfless actions, Brooklyn Duncan put an end to the attack by putting herself in harm’s way to directly prevent further injury to the woman,” said Glavine.

Glavine commended Brooklyn for coming to the aid of a complete stranger in what could have been a life-saving moment considering the events that unfolded prior to her arrival.

Kings West MLA Leo Glavine recently recognized 15-year-old Brooklyn Duncan, centre, for intervening when two pit bulls were attacking Claire Handley, left, in August 2017.
Kings West MLA Leo Glavine recently recognized 15-year-old Brooklyn Duncan, centre, for intervening when two dogs were attacking Claire Handley, left, in August 2017.

Brooklyn blushed and grinned from ear to ear while accepting a plaque and flowers from Glavine in front of her proud parents, Tricia Uhlman and Andrew Duncan.

Kings County Mayor Peter Muttart stopped by to shake Brooklyn’s hand.

“You’re a hero,” he told the glowing teen.

Brooklyn likes to think she did what anyone else would do in that situation.

“When it happened I didn’t think anything of it because I thought I was doing what anyone else would have done if they had walked by that,” she said.

“I just couldn’t let that happen.”

Handley, who beamed with pride while watching Glavine present Brooklyn with a copy of the resolution he prepared, wasn’t about to sit idle and let Brooklyn deflect any praise.

“I think she’s awesome. I think Nova Scotia is better for people like Brooklyn,” she said, stressing that Brooklyn's quick thinking during the attack and calming influence after the fact “meant the world” to her and her family.

“I’m sure she’ll do wonderful things in her life.”

Brooklyn Duncan, 15, has her photo taken with her parents, Tricia Uhlman and Andrew Duncan, during an event honouring the teen for an act of bravery in August 2017.
Brooklyn Duncan, 15, has her photo taken with her parents, Tricia Uhlman and Andrew Duncan, during an event honouring the teen for an act of bravery in August 2017.

Editor's note: The story has been updated as of 8:40 a.m. March 20 to include the following comments:

Handley said an owner of the dogs was also trying to get the situation under control, and her sole purpose for sharing her story is to publicly thank Brooklyn for rushing to her aid.

“I feel badly for the people that own the dogs. They certainly had no intention harming anyone, or anything like that. It’s just an unfortunate event that happened and… they must feel horrible,” said Handley.

“I don’t want any anguish for them. I don’t wish any ill on them.”

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