Posted: 26.03.21 at 09:48 by Sam Petherick
More than 6,000 people have put their names to two petitions in the wake of the death of Freddie the seal.
Freddie, a habour seal popular with Richmond locals, suffered serious injuries after being attacked near Hammersmith Bridge on Sunday and had to be put down.
The dog’s owner Rebecca Sabben-Clare has since given her “unreserved apologies” and said she is heartbroken by what happened.
Ms Sabben-Clare said she was told by the RSPCA that no offence had been committeed.
A petition by Julie Murray titled Justice for Freddie the seal has been signed by more than 3,700 people.
A second petition, called In memory of Freddie – stop dog attacks on wildlife, has topped 1,500 signatures.
It reads: “In the past few months, deer in our London parks have been attacked by dangerous dogs out of control. Tragically, our young seal, Freddie Mercury, has also been brutally bitten whilst simply basking in the sun on the edge of the Thames and has very sadly lost his life. Kind passers-by managed to get the dog off Freddie and were injured too as a result.
“We have to do something to make areas safer for humans, animals and birds alike. The increase in puppy ownership during lockdown has only exacerbated the problem. We need new signage and education for dog owners and we propose to get representatives together on behalf of our community to work with the police and our MP to make a change.
“The presence of beautiful wildlife such as Freddie has given our community a well needed lift. He made his way back to our waters from the Isle of Sheppey where he was released after being rescued in Teddington. We need to create a safe zone on our towpaths and in our parks for future wildlife to be enjoyed by all.
• we need the public to act respectfully around wild animals, livestock and birds and to control their dogs all over the UK
• there have been several dogs falling into the Thames over lockdown, resulting in dangerous rescues risking lives
• the towpaths and parks are now so busy with walkers and cyclists, is it safe for dogs to be off leads there?
• should all dog owners be legally required to take their puppies to training classes to ensure training is given, especially recall?
• dogs need to be on the lead anywhere near wildlife and livestock. Many owners underestimate how good their dog's recall is when suddenly faced with an exciting wild creature eg deer, swan, duck, sheep, skylark as well as a seal
• this is not just a London issue, it's UK-wide
• this is not just affecting our wildlife but livestock in rural areas too.
“I am a dog owner myself and would fully support a campaign to increase awareness and education with harsher penalties. Next time it could be a child.
“It's about time we bring in new controls for dogs to be on leads in specific areas in order to protect our wildlife and enable it to flourish for future generations to enjoy.”