A PET owner has told a car thief he can keep her vehicle - as long as he returns her puppy, which was on the back seat.

Jill Geiser has been frantic with worry after a thief took her Renault Clio, containing 12-week-old Betty, from outside a village post office.

Mrs Geiser is appealing for the thief to return the rare breed flat-coated retriever unharmed.

Her ordeal began at 5.30pm on Wednesday when she parked her car, leaving the keys in the ignition, outside the post office in Crathorne, near Yarm, Teesside.

She came outside just in time to see her burgundy car being driven off by a young man in the direction of the A19.

The car and puppy have not been seen since, but the animal's cage has been found in Oaktree Lane, Middleton St George, near Darlington.

Mrs Geiser, who lives in Crathorne, is worried the thief has sold the dog or dumped it.

She said yesterday: "I want to appeal to this person's better nature, if he has one, to return the puppy or hand her in to a rescue centre.

"She isn't even house trained yet and needs four meals a day so I'm really worried she's just been dumped somewhere.

"She's a very endearing little rascal and the house isn't the same without her. It's my own fault though. I stupidly assumed it would be safe to leave my keys in the ignition while I popped in to buy a newspaper.

"I wonder where she is now - I don't like to think about it."

Mrs Geiser is offering a reward of £200 for any information leading to the safe return of the puppy.