A Florida woman is grieving the loss of her disabled dog after a thief stole her car while the animal was inside before dumping the vehicle, leading to the death of the beloved pet.

Zorra, a disabled husky-shepherd mix with paralysed back legs that used a dog wheelchair, had been left inside an air-conditioned 2005 Volvo when her owner Wanda Ferrari went into a shop.

When Ferrari returned to her vehicle, it was gone - along with Zorra.

"I was in shock. And you know, the shock wore off," Ferrari told WFMY-TV. "And then, I was traumatised, and in tears, because my girl was in the back, you know. I'm like, 'Who would do that? Who would take a car with a dog?' They probably didn't know."

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A social media campaign was started by local rescue groups, who offered a US$3000 ($4770) reward for information leading to Zorra's return.

Ferrari issued an emotional plea, saying: "I don't care how you give us a clue; I don't care. Tell us where to find that dog."

A local dog rescuer, Amy Roman, even hired a local pet detective to help crack the case.

The tragic end to the search came when a tow company found the vehicle at a local apartment complex, with the doors and windows closed and Zorra lying dead inside.

Broward County Sheriff's Office confirmed the death and said they were investigating and no arrests had yet been made.

Ferrari spoke to media after Zorra was found, pointing the finger at police for not recovering the vehicle earlier.

"The main thing now is that we need to get out there and look for this person," said Ferrari. "They are doing their best at BSO. They are going to update you guys and everything. This is a big cry for justice right now because this is basically the murder of an animal that they let happen."