AUGUSTA -- A new scam is making the rounds, preying on the hearts and the wallets of pet lovers.
Imagine paying for a puppy only to find out it doesn't exist and your money is gone.
You could call it four-legged fraud.
People fall victim to it after seeing a cute picture and a discounted price.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems with purchasing puppies.
If you want to protect yourself, you have to do your homework.
Amanda Anderson's dog Bailey is a tough little pup; a tough little pup that's had a rough life so far. "By Monday morning, she was throwing up real bad," she said.
Amanda and her family hadn't even had Bailey for a week and the puppy was diagnosed with a deadly disease called Parvo.
"They've got a 50% chance of living and a 50% chance of dying," Amanda says.
Amanda and her vet think Bailey had to contact the disease at the place where she was bought. That's something Amanda chalks up to not doing enough research into the background of the person she was buying the dog from.
In some ways, Amanda and her family are lucky, they at least got Bailey. Some others aren't that lucky.
The American Kennel Club says there is a new scam appearing in emails and classified ads that offer purebred dogs for relatively-little money.
People pony up for shipping and other fees, but the dog doesn't arrive. In fact, it doesn't exist.
Audrey Bye is vice-president of the Augusta Kennel Club and she says a person can protect themselves by just doing their homework. To start, you should look for a reputable breeder.
"If you start with Parent Breed Club, they can give you recommendations to breeders that are members of their club," Audrey said.
That means getting in touch with the American Kennel Club or the Augusta Kennel Club. You can even check out the Web site http://offa.org/ to check out the health history of the dog and its family.
That's something Amanda didn't do, but she's learned her lesson and thankfully, it looks like little Bailey is going to make it. "Even though she's little, she's strong willed. I think she's a strong dog," Amanda said.
And, of course, remember the local humane society and other shelters have plenty of great dogs and cats looking for homes for next to nothing.