Animal lovers considering a purebred puppy as a holiday gift should make sure they're getting what they bargain for, authorities warned Monday.
Victims of scams have spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars on supposedly purebred pooches that turn out not to be what sellers claimed, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, which issued the warning.
Pet stores and other resellers may simply accept a breeder's word that an animal is a specific breed.
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To determine if a dog is a recognized purebred, buyers should request registration documents from an organization such as the American Kennel Club, Canine Kennel Club or the Continental Kennel Club.
For non-recognized, "designer" breeds, experts can provide a second opinion.
The District Attorney's Office suggests meeting the seller and the dog in person wherever the animal is housed and asking for medical records before paying or signing any contracts.
Purebred pups will no longer be available from pet stores beginning Jan. 1, when a new state law goes into effect requiring shops to sell only dogs, cats and rabbits from animal shelters or rescue organizations.
In the meantime, plenty of would-be pets are available for adoption at dozens of county, city and private shelters.