Thames seal dies from severe injuries after ‘ferocious’ dog attack

Two passers-by were treated for injuries after a gruelling rescue effort

Joanna Taylor,Matt Mathers
Tuesday 23 March 2021 02:10
Comments
Seal rescued after dog attack in London

A popular River Thames seal that suffered severe injuries following a "ferocious" dog attack has died.

The animal — who was nicknamed ‘Freddie Mercury’ and was often spotted basking beneath Hammersmith Bridge by the Thames — has been put to sleep by vets.

He was left bitten and bloodied by the attack on Sunday afternoon and taken to South Essex Wildlife Hospital following rescue efforts by passers-by.

Two members of the public who helped to prize Freddie free from his attackers’s jaws were reportedly treated in hospital after one was bitten by the dog and the other was “head butted” by the seal.

Passer-by Runa Bousquet described the incident to The Chiswick Calendar. She says that the dog-walker was “a good 800 metres away” from the seal but the terrier raced down the river bank and “clamped its jaws onto the poor seal and didn’t let it go.”

“The poor seal was very distressed, twisting and turning its flippers,” while people tried to pull the dog away, she said.

Read more:

“One of the men actually started kicking the dog quite aggressively and the owner got rather upset, but at the same time she too was trying to pull her own dog off the seal.”

Bousquet says that she called phoned for help while other passers-by tried to calm the seal down. One was bitten by the dog and another was “head butted” by the seal in the commotion, she added.

Freddie was eventually coaxed into a large dog cage and attended to by a British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) medic, before being transported onto a London Fire Brigade boat on Tilbury Docks, according to South Essex Wildlife Hospital.

He suffered a bite to one of his flippers, a broken bone, a dislocation and damage to his joints, ligaments and nerves”.

In a statement on Sunday, BDMLR confirmed Freddie had been put down, adding the seal’s injuries “were impossible to treat and return him to the wild”.

The statement added: “We contacted a number of marine mammal veterinarians in the UK and the Netherlands, including an orthopaedic surgeon, and sadly based on their experiences the decision is that he needed to be euthanised for his welfare.

“We would be unable to release a seal back into the wild with one flipper, if amputation was an option, as we have a firm policy on not putting animals into captivity, and the seal’s welfare must be put first and foremost.”

BDMLR's CEO Alan Knight said Freddie was the victim of a "ferocious attack".

He added: “We hope that his story will go a long way to helping educate people to look up and follow the appropriate guidelines for how to behave respectfully around wild animals and not cause disturbance or worse to them.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in