A much-loved seal pup is recovering in urgent care after it was savagely mauled by a dog yesterday on the bank of the River Thames.

The young seal was basking on a canoe slip under Hammersmith Bridge at 12:45pm on Sunday (March 21) when it was attacked by an out-of-control dog.

Several quick-thinking passers-by stepped in to protect the mammal before the dog was recalled by its owner, who then left the scene.

According to witnesses, one helper was caught by the dog and required stitches in his face and a tetanus jab as a result.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue, with the assistance of a local vet, were able to source a cage and contain the seal safely, where it was transferred to South Essex Wildlife Hospital (SEWH).

Seal pup recovering at South Essex Wildlife Hospital (Image: Laura Bates)

Seal pup recovering at South Essex Wildlife Hospital (Image: Laura Bates)

The Port of London Authority and London Fire Brigade organised a boat to collect the seal and take it to Tilbury, where staff at SEWH have special training in seal care.

Known to the Teddington and Twickenham community as Freddie Mercury, the 10-month-old seal gained public attention after a fishing hook got caught in his mouth in February.

After being released at the Isle of Sheppey, where other seals reside, he returned to the Teddington and Twickenham area of the Thames.

A spokesperson from the BDMLR said: “This is the second time BDMLR have need to help this seal in the last month: On Saturday 20th February, the seal was rescued from Teddington Lock after getting a fishing lure stuck in its mouth.

“He was caught and relocated to the Swale Estuary, only to return to the River Thames two weeks later. Since then he has been hauling out on the slipway under Hammersmith Bridge, and up until today has been undisturbed.

“We would like to thank the Port of London Authority, Metropolitan Police, HM Coastguard, and London Fire Brigade for their help with the public and with transportation, and the residents of Hammersmith who have been doing their best to keep the seal safe in recent weeks.”

Seal pup with fish lure in his mouth (Image: BDMLR and Teddington Town)

Seal pup with fish lure in his mouth (Image: BDMLR and Teddington Town)

An online fundraiser has been created by locals who were moved by Sunday’s distressing events.

The fundraiser has already surpassed its target of £500 – raising a total of £1,757 which continues to climb. 

A statement online read: “The presence of ‘Freddie Mercury’ the seal pup has brought much needed joy and smiles to our community in Barnes, South West London, since he arrived last month.

“He has become a national treasure in the process, appearing on This Morning and various news channels. A happy and content seal pup, accepting of all visitors that came to see him.”

“We would like to raise funds to thank the teams at the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who have been instrumental in protecting and taking care of Freddie this entire time and also the heroes who were involved in his recent rescue. They work tirelessly all year around to protect the UK’s marine life.”