Thames seal death: QC ‘heartbroken’ over attack by her dog

A barrister says she is “heartbroken” after her dog attacked a popular seal known as Freddie Mercury.

The seal, named after the late Queen singer, had won the hearts of residents frolicking on the River Thames near Hammersmith Bridge in west London.

But after the attack on Sunday, vets decided to put the young pup down as his injuries were so serious.

Dog owner Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC said she “apologises unreservedly” and will not face charges over the incident.

In a statement, the commercial barrister said: “I am heartbroken by this terrible accident.

“As an animal lover, I fully understand the dismay that has been expressed.”

‘Quite shocking’

Freddie’s wounds included a broken bone, dislocation of a flipper and damage to joints, ligaments and nerves.

Eyewitness Duncan Phillips described the attack, which he said lasted around two minutes, as “quite shocking”.

The photographer said: “People were just sitting there watching the seal sunning itself.

“Then suddenly this dog runs along the foreshore and savagely attacks the seal. People were quite shocked and dismayed by what happened.

“The dog just wasn’t letting go and it had its teeth in. It was clamped on, which is the best way to describe it.”

‘Wish dog had been on a lead’

Ms Sabben-Clare said she wished “in hindsight” she had put her dog on a lead but at the time “it did not seem necessary”.

She continued: “I left for my own safety and that of my dog, believing that there was nothing that I could do to help as the seal was being looked after by a vet and help had been called. I offered my contact details to the vet before leaving.”

The Oxford graduate was interviewed by the RSPCA and also contacted police.

The Met said following an investigation no further criminal action will be taken by them.

Ms Sabben-Clare has made a donation to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Tilbury, which treated the seal.

Common or harbour seals can often be seen in and along the Thames, with the Zoological Society of London’s Thames Marine Mammal Survey reporting 117 sightings of the semi-aquatic mammals this year.

Source: BBC