A dog walker who was punched on the nose after confronting eight yobs who were attacking a baby seal on a beach has said she feels sorry for them.
Sarah Tough was left bleeding after she was hit in the face by one of the youths on Crimdon beach in County Durham on Monday.
But the attacker and his friends fled after her border collie Tally bit him on the ankle.
Sarah, who has moved back to the UK having worked as a paramedic in Canada, said: "Something must have happened to them, they must have had a crappy upbringing to go on like that.
"I feel sympathy for them. I know it's silly."
The 25-year-old, from Peterlee, was walking Tally on the beach and shouted at the youths when she realised they were tormenting a seal which was trying to get back into the sea.
"I was horrified and I opened my mouth before I could put any thought into it," she said.
It appeared they were throwing sand at the stricken creature and trying to bury it.
One of the youths came over aggressively towards her, she said. "He was not happy about being confronted," she said. "My dog started barking, he was swearing at me, calling me horrible names and he punched me on the nose."
She has a nose piercing which made her injuries worse, although her nose was not broken.
"My dog bit him and that scared them off, they slowly walked off shouting abuse and I called the police."
Sarah has been visiting the beach for years and has never seen a seal there before.
The RSPCA were called and said the seal appeared to be exhausted and stressed but was expected to make a recovery.