BELLEVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A quick stop at a convenience store turned into a frantic search for a family dog left behind in an idling car.

Clutching her dog’s favorite toy, Lisa Villacari made a desperate plea to the man who took off with her car, which was left running in front of a 7-Eleven in Nutley. Her beloved 10-year-old Maltese, named “Valentino,” was inside the vehicle.

“Valentino is my life. He is my everything so I would like to have him home,” Villacari told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

The incident happened Monday at around 11 a.m.

“I walked in and got the water and I felt my car and I turned and the kid jumped in my car. I ran down Passaic Avenue after him,” Villacari said.

Witnesses said as Villacari ran out, the suspect turned around on an embankment and headed toward Passaic Avenue, making a right turn. Now Villacari is left just pleading for her dog’s safe return.

“Please, please, please give me my dog back — keep the car, keep everything. I’m not mad at you. I’m sure you didn’t realize you had Valentino, but I would like him to come home,” Villacari said.

Friends have been posting pictures of the dog everywhere. They’re worried because he has a heart problem and needs antibiotics. Villacari is also begging the suspect to take care of her dog.

“There’s dog food in his car, that’s his dog food that’s in the back seat — I hope you’re feeding him,” she said.

Police are working with other departments searching for the 2011 black Hyundai Sonata. The incident has police reminding residents to never leave a car on and unattended.

“Don’t make the mistake that I made. I trusted that he would be safe,” Villacari said.

Hoping to get new clues, police are also examining surveillance video from the front of the convenience store.

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