A dog walker who stepped in as a group of men attacked a seal was left a bloody mess when one of them turned on her.
Paramedic Sarah Tough was on the beach at Crimdon when she spotted the group of eight college-aged lads causing the seal distress as it tried to head for the sea.
When she remonstrated with them, she was hit in the nose, leaving her with blood pouring down her face.
But the yob who sized up to her was left with his own injury after her dog turned on him and bit his ankle.
The incident has been reported to the RSPCA.
Its officers ensured the young seal, which was left exhausted by the incident, was well enough to make it back into the water.
Sarah, 25, is a paramedic in New Brunswick, Cananda, where she emigrated when she was 19.
She has returned to Peterlee for an extended stay and is running her own business Pilly Pinky, which makes all natural dog treats.
She was out walking her border collie Tally when the disturbance broke out on the beach between 1pm and 2pm on Monday.
"I saw them in the distance and I didn't have my glasses on and at first I thought it was just a log or some driftwood," she said.
"But when I got closer, I thought 'Oh my God' that's a seal and it was just rolling around, trying to scurry to get away and they were just getting in its way.
"They were throwing things off it and I saw one throwing sand in its face and I think they were trying to bury it.
"There was about eight of them and I didn't really thing about it, I'm not tough by any stretch of the word, but just got angry and went in a rage when I saw it.
"I just shouted at them with some choice words and if they didn't stop I would call the police.
"One of them came out, the ringleader, and said 'Who are you talking to like?' and then he popped me.
"Then my dog bit him on the ankle.
"I was in such a panic, there was blood all over my face, and the dog just latched on to him.
"The seal was terrified and it was exhausted, it wasn't moving, it was just lying there.
"The RSPCA went down and checked on it and they said it was fine and would go back in with the tide."
Sarah's injury was compounded by the fact she has her nose pierced, with the impact causing a wound and bruising.
But while the incident has left her angry and she hopes the men can be traced, she believes the attackers need help.
She added: "I honestly feel sorry for them.
"I might sound silly, but my thought is, what's happened to them in their lives that they would do something like that?
"It's awful, and a lot of people are angry about it and say they get what they deserve, but they must have had bad upbringings."
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.