A WOMAN has been attacked and robbed of a rare dog - and the theft may have been to order.

Until the attack, 25-year-old Jamie Parker owned the only Australian shepherd dog in the North-East.

Jamie, who had a border collie stolen from her garden in Guisborough, east Cleveland, less than a year ago, always walked six-month-old Tiah in the same area, at the same time every night.

The mugger initially demanded her mobile phone and cash before making off with the dog, an American breed.

But Jamie and her family are wondering whether Tiah was the mugger's real target.

She said: "We wonder why an opportunistic thief would run off with a dog, and at 11.30pm. What on earth is he going to do with a dog at that time of night?"

The attacker punched Jamie, who suffers from chronic cystic fibrosis, in the face as she walked Tiah along a path near the old railway bridge at Hunter's Hill, Guisborough.

Jamie, who also owns five border collies, fell in love with Tiah's breed when she saw for the dogs in a TV programme.

Now she has been left devastated by the theft of the rare black, white and tan, 16in tall bitch. The attack has also affected her health.

Jamie said: "I just want him to hand her in to the police or a local vet."

Anyone with information about the attack or the dog is asked to contact the police on (01642) 302026.