Beware of buying puppies from some dealers

HOUSTON Looking back now the woman you're about to hear from says she should have known better. She saw a puppy on a website, met the seller, paid cash and never heard from her again. She fears retribution so we agreed not to show her face.

It all started with a meeting on Highway 6 much like this one. There were two adorable Malti-poo puppies and this mother of three boys came away with both, one for her family, one as a gift. They named theirs Basil.

"Of course, we immediately fell in love," said the woman.

Her boys had been wanting a dog for years so little Basil quickly became the center of attention. Life with the new addition seemed perfect but within a week there was trouble.

"She started acting very strange. She had a weird cough," she said.

Five weeks and thousands of dollars in vet bills later, she was so bad, they had no choice but to euthanize her.

"She was shaking and had twitches and was wobbling," the woman said. "The life she had with us was a really good life, it was really short, but it was a good life."

The veterinarian said Basil died from distemper, a contagious and often deadly viral disease. She called and texted the woman, Lluvia Hernandez, who sold her the puppy, but she says she never responded.

Soon the puppy she gave as a gift was also dead. We've spoken to another woman who says she bought a Malti-poo from Lluvia that died as well. That owner tells us she didn't respond either.

"You can't find them, once we bought the dog they don't respond," she said.

So we set up a meeting and asked a few questions. When we asked if they breed the dogs, Lluvia replied, "No, this is the first time."

Though we talked to a man named Edgar over the phone, Lluvia showed up. She told us she lived in an apartment, had never bred dogs before, and most importantly, she carried on a conversation.

"I cannot keep too many dogs in my apartment. I'm not even supposed to have one," said Lluvia.

Then we followed her, not back to an apartment, but to a house in west Harris County. When we went back to ask why she never responded when Basil and the other puppies died, over the whines of puppies in the garage, she claimed he didn't speak English.

Which brings us to the lesson. The Houston SPCA discourages people from buying animals from websites, flea markets or in parking lots.

"You should be able to know where the animal came from see where it's living, meet the parents," said Meera Nandlal of the Houston SPCA.

It's something this mother knows now.

"I probably did everything wrong when you're buying a dog," said the woman.

She hopes her family's pain can be a warning for others.

"We just want to make sure that the message gets out there not to buy these dogs," she said.

In Texas there is no law regulating those who breed and sell dogs so the SPCA says the seller in our story has done nothing wrong. However, they encourage people to get their pets from reputable shelters or breed rescue organizations so you know what you're getting, and if something happens you know how to find them.

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