A SHOP assistant wants burglars to return her stolen dog, which helped her recover from a suicide attempt last year.

Zara Street, of Fairwater Close, in Evesham, said Tilly gave her a reason to keep going after her overdose.

Her mental health has taken a nosedive since the Chihuahua-Pekingese cross was stolen in a burglary on Saturday.

She said: "I need Tilly home. She's not just a dog, she keeps me sane.

"She's my therapy dog. Tilly helped me massively, she gave me a reason to keep on going. I was on anti-depressants and wouldn't get out of bed when my dad got her for me.

"She gave me a reason to get up - to feed her and let her out. I then got a job and started going to college."

Miss Street, previously of Droitwich, said she stopped self-harming after she got Tilly three years ago.

She added that the pooch also helped her bounce back from an overdose last year - as she built up her confidence by talking to fellow dog walkers.

Miss Street, who has moved out of her house since the burglary, is now reeling from the loss of Tilly.

She said: "I'm really struggling. My depression and anxiety have become worse. I've had my tablets upped."

The Spar shop assistant added that police told her there had been spate of dog thefts in Evesham, with thieves targeting high-value breeds.

She said: "Police think the house was targeted because of my dog's breed.

"They think the burglars have been watching our routine for a while."

The criminals took Tilly, who Miss Street thinks is worth around £900, but left her mum's Labrador, Roxy.

They also stole her grandad's bracelet, which her grandmother gave to her, her brother's Armani watch, and riffled through her underwear drawer, prompting her to buy new lingerie.

Miss Street suspects that a man she saw looking through her fence a couple of weeks ago may have been involved in the burglary.

She said he was looking at Tilly in the garden and fled when she shouted at him.

Miss Street, who has had three-year-old Tilly since she was a puppy, was at her partner's home when the burglary took place.

Her brother and mum, who live with her, were also away from the house at the time of the incident.

Miss Street has received over 100 private messages of support from strangers since sharing an appeal for Tilly's return on Facebook.

Lisa Phipps, central regional co-ordinator for Doglost, said: “It is really hard for people to think straight at such a distressing time and part of our role is to guide them through the things they need to do, such as contacting the authorities, having a stolen alert placed on their dog’s microchip record and asking people to help look out for their dog.

“Dog theft is a wicked crime - it is devastating for families. For many people pets are family members and they can’t be replaced.

“The pain for those whose dogs have been stolen is torturous as they are consumed with thoughts about where their dogs are, if they are safe, if they are being cared for.”

Ms Phipps wants to let dog owners know about a few steps they can take to keep their pets safe.

She said: “Ensure that your dog is microchipped, that the details are up to date and that you have a record of the microchip number.

“Don’t leave your dog unattended - dogs are stolen daily from outside shops, from vehicles and over 50 per cent of dogs are stolen from their own gardens.

“When you are out with your dogs, be aware of your surroundings and anyone acting suspiciously.

“If your dog is lost or stolen, please contact Doglost straight away for advice.”

Anyone with information about Tilly can ring Doglost on 07383098166 or 08448003220