A DEVASTATED dog owner pleaded for the return of his two pets, one of whom he credits with saving his life.

Gary Notley’s brown and white springer spaniels Nell and Larsson were stolen from an outbuilding.

Mr Notley, 53, said Larsson was his inspiration when he was diagnosed with leukaemia. He said: “Larsson saved my life. I was diagnosed when he was three -months-old and at first I rang the breeder to say I couldn’t take him.

“I thought about it and said: ‘It will give me something to fight for. I want this puppy because it will help me fight my illness’. It helped me through a dark period.”

He believes the Nell and Larsson may have been stolen for breeding, but Nell is spayed and Larsson is sterile.

Larsson, whom Gary got from a breeder in Sweden six years ago, had a lucky escape last year after swallowing a wine cork.

He said: “The vet didn’t repair the stitch properly. He got rushed back to the emergency vet and then to the Royal Veterinary College in London. It didn’t look like he was going to pull through, but he did.”

Mr Notley, who was forced to give up his office job after suffering a broken neck in a car accident, has had Nell since 2009.

They were stolen from Fairstead Road, Fairstead, on Friday between 7.15pm and 10.30pm.

Anyone with information can call Braintree police on 101.