Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

A little girl has been reunited with her puppy after the thieves who stole it apparently returned it to her after a bout of conscience.

An eight-week old Labrador, Sasha, was taken from the family home during a burglary in Melbourne on Monday morning (6 November) – along with a laptop, an iPad, and some jewellery.

Four-year-old Maiai, who had been given the puppy just a week earlier, was said to be "devastated" at the loss of her "best friend".

The family made a public appeal on Australian TV asking for information about the whereabouts of the pet and for him to be returned.

As a tearful Maia looked on, the owners said the puppy had a medical condition that needed attention. After making the national news it seems the thieves may have been among those watching and had a change of heart when they saw the distraught little girl on TV.

On Thursday morning, to the family's surprise, Sasha was found in the garden after having been dropped there overnight.

One of the pet owners, Ryan Hooder, said: "We didn't want to get our hopes up. And then this morning, my wife got up to make herself a coffee, walked past the sliding door, and noticed that there was a figure moving by the kennel," he told Australia's Today morning programme.

"We think that whoever took her either has a conscience or got scared and just dropped her over the fence ... we don't care to be honest, we're just glad to have her back."

He added that Sasha seemed to have developed a "fascination for shoes" during her absence, but was in good health.

One of her owners, Ryan Hood, spoke to Australian news alongside a tearful Maia, appealing for information to track Sasha down.

Victoria Police, who had appealed for information, said that while the family celebrates, the burglary investigation continues. The other stolen items are still missing.

Senior Constable Adam Leggo told Australia's ABC news that the theft of the dog was probably not part of the robber's plan.

"It's a bit of a strange one. It's difficult to understand what they were thinking," he said.