WHEN homeless Carl McDonald sleeps rough on the streets of Oxford his only companion is his lifesaving dog Scooby.

But now a national search has been launched after thieves snatched the four-year-old Australian Kelpie as Mr McDonald slept in a church porch.

The dog was taken just before Christmas while Mr McDonald was sleeping in the porch of St Giles’ Church in the city centre.

Mr McDonald, 43, said he owed her his life after Scooby saved him from a flat fire last year.

He said: “Dogs are everything when you are homeless. They keep you going and listen to you when you have no one to talk to.

“I can’t sleep without her, it’s messing me up to be honest. It feels like someone has stolen my kid.

“I don’t know what I might do to myself really, I can’t live without her. She was like my daughter. I have had her since she was four weeks old and bottle-fed her as a puppy.

“I saved her life then and she saved mine, when I was passed out in a flat last year in Weston-Super-Mare.

“Someone had left a candle on and the flat caught fire. She woke me up and dragged me to the door. I didn’t know where it was because of all the smoke.”

Mr McDonald was given Scooby when she was a puppy by a friend.

The brown Australian Kelpie with a white blaze across her chest was last seen lying next to Mr McDonald.

Mr McDonald said he was sure Scooby was stolen because the lead which hadn’t been attached to her collar was also gone, as well as some dog treats and £38 which had been in his hat.

A friend, Mandy Aitbaha, is helping him search for Scooby by putting up posters.

The 45-year-old from Witney said she always stopped to chat to Mr McDonald and say hello to Scooby while she was shopping in Oxford.

She said: “I’m really worried about him, he’s depressed and without that dog he is suicidal. I always see them together, he loves that dog.

“When I saw him a few days ago after Scooby went missing his head was down and he was crying.

“I couldn’t see Scooby so I knew something was wrong. He has been dealt a rough hand of cards as it is. His words to me were that he is staring death in the face so we really have to find her.”

Volunteers for Dog Lost, a national website which tries to track down missing dogs, have also been searching for Scooby.

DogLost spokesman Nik Oakley said: “This little dog is going to be terrified to be away from his owner.

“He has had her since she was a puppy and she’s a very clever little dog.

“This is a particularly despicable act.

“We would like the people of Oxford to unite to get this man’s one companion back.

“We are doing everything we can to get Scooby back.”

Thames Valley Police spokesman Rhianne Pope confirmed Scooby was reported missing on December 19 and had not yet been found.

She said Scooby’s disappearance was being treated as a theft.