An animal rescue worker said he has been left sickened after a gang of youths stole an ambulance full of pets.
The gang stole the vehicle after a Freshfields Animal centre officer dropped his keys during a delivery in Stockbridge village, Merseyside.
When he returned to the van they demanded £50 for the keys - before one of them jumped in and drove off.
Most of the animals inside - three dogs and two cats - were later found on the road but a large ginger cat is missing.
David Callender, manager of the centre, said he was taking two cats back to their owners when he dropped his keys.
"The next thing I knew a gang of kids were around the van waving the keys at me and laughing.
"They told me I had to pay £50 if I wanted my keys back. I tried to reason with them and explained what I was doing."
Mr Callender told the youths there were animals in the van but he said they "just did not care" and took it anyway.
The cage belonging to the ginger cat was found destroyed on the road and staff at the centre, based in Ince Blundell, are concerned for its welfare.
The white Citroen Berlingo van was stolen just after 2030 GMT on Friday and later found abandoned on Saturday morning.
"It was my worst nightmare, I was so worried about what they were going to do to the animals," Mr Callender added.
"I just can't believe anybody could do something like this, it's sickening.
"This is a hard enough job as it is without gangs of teenagers terrorising us."