A DOG helping his owner to recover from alcoholism has been stolen, it is feared.

Chris Luby said he has struggled to cope at Christmas without his beloved Zeus, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and French Bordeux cross.

The 52-year-old, of Audley Court, last saw Zeus when he let him into his garden while he talked to a trainer who works on the hyperactive dog's behavioural problems.

But when he went to check on the dog 15 minutes later he had disappeared and the gate to the street was wide open.

Mr Luby, who suffers a neurological problem which causes loss of memory and slurred speech. said: "The gate was locked. It has a sliding bolt that only someone leaning over the gate could unlock.There is no way he could have got out on his own.

"I fear he has been stolen. I’ve heard people steal dogs and sell them for drugs."

Mr Luby was an alcoholic for three decades but has not had a drink for two years.

He bought Zeus seven months ago to help with his recovery.

Mr Luby said: "He was my companion and my friend.

"Christmas without him was horrible. I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder where he has gone.

"He has helped me stay off the booze and helped me get out the house by taking him for walks.

"With my condition it is so easy to stay inside and drink.

"The police don’t really get involved."

Mr Luby believes Zeus was taken between 11am and 11.15am on Friday and has put posters up across South Woodford, Snaresbrook and Wanstead pleading for his stolen dog to be returned.

Zeus is brown with a white chest and was wearing a red collar at the time.

Anyone with any information can call either 07956 335924 or 07984 671114.