Seal Attack Dog Owner To Face No Charges

Senior lawyer apologises and thanks those that intervened

Rebecca Sabben-Clare. Picture: 7KBW


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The owner of the dog which attacked a seal on a slipway in Barnes this Sunday (21 March) is reportedly not to face any charges.

She has been identified as 49-year-old Rebecca Sabben-Clare, a QC. She says she has been in contact with both the police and the RSPCA who have confirmed that no offence has been committed.

She is understood to have been some distance from her dog when it launched the attack on a seal pup which had been named as Freddie Mercury and was regularly sighted by the Thames near Hammersmith Bridge.

Ms Sabben-Clare joined passers-by in attempting to separate the two animals but not before her pet had inflicted such serious wounds on the seal that it had to be euthanised.

She has issued a statement saying, “I am heartbroken by this terrible accident.

“As an animal lover, I fully understand the dismay that has been expressed. I apologise unreservedly for what happened. In hindsight I wish, of course, that the dog had been on a lead but at the time that did not seem necessary.

“I am hugely grateful to all those who helped at the scene. They were heroic. 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.”

She has made a donation to the Wildlife Hospital which treated the seal and praised the work it does.

According to a report in the MailOnline, Ms Sabben-Clare is the daughter of a former head of Winchester College.

The Crown Prosecution Service has said that the owner of a dog could be prosecuted if it was deemed to be ‘dangerously out of control’ but this normally occurs when livestock is involved.

Freddie at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital
Freddie at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital. Picture: BDMLR

The animal welfare charity, Blue Cross, which helps educate the public in the responsibilities of animal ownership also released a statement on the incident.

Ryan Neile, Head of Behaviour said the team were “deeply saddened to hear about the passing of a beautiful animal like Freddie the seal.”

He added, “Regardless of age and size, all dogs are predatory animals, and although over the years we’ve bred them for different purposes, many retain strong instincts to chase and hunt prey animals.

“Those specifically bred for hunting will tend to have stronger instincts than other breeds, however all dogs have the potential to carry out these behaviours unless carefully socialised and appropriately trained.

“As dog owners our responsibility to ensure our dogs are kept under control at all times (on and off lead) must be taken seriously, particularly in areas where there is wildlife. Always seek help from qualified reward-based trainers to resolve any issues you are having with your dog”.

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March 24, 2021