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Vets who were battling to save an accident-prone seal pup who was viciously attacked by a dog have said “the only ethical and fair option we have is to end his suffering”.

In a sad update tonight, vets explained their reasons for decidind to end the life of the “well-loved” seal – and to “end his suffering” after the devastating mauling.

It was the fourth time the young seal called Freddie, who was previously rescued and made famous on ITV’s This Morning, had had to be saved – and just two weeks since his last mishap.

The ninth-month old seal was basking on the banks of Thames in west London when he was attacked, leaving him with deep lacerations to his neck and flipper.

Members of the public bravely raced to his rescue, pulling the dog away, and protecting him until vets arrived.

Today he was being treated at a rescue centre in Essex after a 40-mile emergency dash by a fire brigade boat from Barnes to Tilbury.

Vets, including This Morning’s Scott Miller, feare he may have to be put down.

And this evening, in a sad update, a spokesperson forr South Essex Wildlife Hospital, in Grays, said: “Freddie’s flipper is fractured and the joint dislocated. Seals do not take anaesthetic well as they have a dive reflex and don’t breath.

“Although an attempt could be made to pin the fracture, it would be impossible to immobilise the limb to give it time to heal. More challenging is the dislocation which is not repairable.

“The flipper is very swollen and despite antibiotics and pain relief the seal is clearly very uncomfortable and reluctant to eat. We suspect the infection is spreading and with the other bite wounds to his body he is very miserable.

“At this stage we believe the only ethical and fair option we have is to end his suffering.”

They added: “We know this is a well loved seal from the amazing response we have had to his story but he is not the only seal we have had to care for that this has happened to. Please folks do not go near seals and always, always, keep dogs on leads and under control.”

Earlier the vets admitted: “It’s not looking good for Freddie. He had open bite wounds on his body but the worst damage is to his flipper which is obviously vital for a seal to survive.

“Our vet examined him, then Scott Miller has, and they’ve sent X-rays and information to various other vets to see what they think.

“But the initial feeling is it’s not looking good and it may have to be put down.”

Prio to tonight’s update, Alan Knight of the charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), which co-ordinated the rescue operation, said: “All credit to the public who went to help at considerable risk to themselves. It was a horrible, savage attack. Two people went to hospital for check-ups after suffering cuts.

“They managed to stop Freddie getting back in the water in panic because we’d probably have lost him for good.

“It’s touch and go whether the bone in his flipper will repair. We’re all hoping for the best.”

The attack, which took place on Sunday, has been reported to police.

Passing vet Rachel Kirby, a cyclist and wildlife photographer Lloyd Arnold were the first to try dragging the dog off.

Kirby received a bite on her thigh and one on her hand during the struggle and Arnold had to go to A&E with a bleeding mouth after he was headbutted by the traumatised seal as it tried to escape.

Dog walker Runa Bousquet was passing by and telephoned for help.

She said: “It literally clamped its jaws onto the poor seal and didn’t let go.