In West London, a seal —who was named after Freddie Mercury because of its crowd-pleasing abilities— had died because of a savage dog attack.
The seal was viciously attacked by a dog at the River Thames and the vets who treated the sea animal were forced to euthanize him and said it was ‘the only ethical and fair option’.
Freddie the seal has been entertaining riverside walkers since he arrived upstream on the river last month.
However, disturbing pictures showed the seal being mauled by a brown cross-breed dog.
Onlookers including a passing vet rushed over to remove the dog’s clamped jaws and stayed with the injured young pup until emergency services arrived.
Photographer Duncan Phillips, 55, was shooting images of the seal when it was suddenly attacked.
“It was quite a vicious attack, the dog just wouldn’t let go,” Duncan told My London. “It wouldn’t let go despite repeated attempts by members of the public to separate the animals.”
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) sent medics to treat its severe wounds before taking it to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital (SEWH) by boat with help from the Port of London Authority and London Fire Brigade.
However, the vets said the following day that the seal’s prognosis is extremely poor.
“Ourselves and the experts at British divers marine life rescue have consulted several specialist marine and orthopedic vets and as we strongly suspected having taken X-rays this morning the prognosis is extremely poor.”
“Freddie’s flipper is fractured and the joint dislocated,” the vets said. “Seals do not take anesthetic well as they have a dive reflex and don’t breathe.”
“We suspect the infection is spreading and with the other bite wounds to his body he is very miserable,” the vets added. “At this stage, we believe the only ethical and fair option we have is to end his suffering.”
BDMLR later confirmed they had made the difficult decision to euthanize the seal after consultations with marine experts.
“Unfortunately, after an X-ray this afternoon, our worst fears were confirmed, and the seal not only sustained a broken bone, but also a dislocation, damage to his joints, ligaments, and nerves that made it impossible to treat and return him to the wild.”
“We contacted a number of marine mammal veterinarians in the UK and the Netherlands, including an orthopedic surgeon, and sadly based on their experiences the decision is that he needed to be euthanized 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.”
The passing vet who helped in the incident was reportedly bitten three times by the scared seal while trying to rescue him, and a male cyclist who also stopped to help was ‘headbutted’ by the seal as they tried to hold him in place until he could get treatment.
Freddie the seal had originally been rescued as a new-born pup last year in the Netherlands but he was rescued again in France and now twice in the UK.
Animal lovers who were shocked by the attack took to social media to criticize the dog’s owner.
“I hope this owner is dragged into court,” the commenter said. “Sick to death of seeing these horrendous attacks stop making excuses for these dogs and irresponsible owners!”