A popular seal nicknamed Freddie Mercury — who took up residence and drew adoring fans along the Thames in London — was reportedly mauled to death by an unleashed dog owned by a top city lawyer.
Oxford-educated Rebecca Sabben-Clare, 49, and four passers-by, including a veterinarian, tried to pry her cross-breed pooch’s jaws off Freddie during the vicious attack near the Hammersmith Bridge on Sunday, The Sun reported.
A photographer who was snapping pictures of Freddie when the attack happened said it was “vicious.”
“The dog just wouldn’t let go,” Duncan Phillips, 55, told MyLondon. “It wouldn’t let go despite repeated attempts by members of the public to separate the animals.”
After trying to save Freddie’s life, vets had to put him down on Monday, saying the “only ethical and fair option we have is to end his suffering” after he was left with a fractured flipper and an infected wound, according to The Guardian.
On Tuesday, police said they were investigating the death and were looking to speak with Sabben-Clare, who was later apparently told that no offense had been committed, The Sun reported.
The woman, who studied at New College Oxford and is now a specialist in commercial law, was named a leading English silk – a term that refers to a lawyer who achieves that status of queen’s counsel — in the 2021 Legal 500 Directory, according to the outlet.
“What happened to Freddie the seal is heartbreaking,” a spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told The Sun.
“Dog owners should act responsibly and keep their pets on leads around wild animals to ensure incidents like this are prevented. It is never OK to allow dogs to harass and attack a wild animal,” the rep said.
“We understand how upsetting this incident was for anyone who witnessed it and we hope we can spread the message encouraging dog owners to keep their dog on a lead if wildlife is around,” the spokesman added.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue described the efforts to save Freddie’s life at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital.
“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 joint, ligaments and nerves that made it impossible to treat and return him to the wild,” it said on Facebook.
“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 euthanased for his welfare,” BDMLR continued.
“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,” it added.
Since arriving to the Thames a few weeks ago, the beloved 10-month-old seal – nicknamed after the famed British singer in the rock band Queen – had been a mainstay where he garnered legions of adoring fans.
He gained public attention in February when he was rescued from Teddington Lock after a fishing lure became stuck in his mouth.
Heartbroken Britons took to social media to express their grief about Freddie’s demise.
“RIP #freddietheseal people who own dogs that attack people/wildlife should be banned from owning pets for life, first a dear in Richmond park, now a poor seal in Hammersmith, when will it stop?” Josh Fraser said in a tweet.