LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Customs inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport intercepted eight Pomeranian puppies that were smuggled into the country from Russia, authorities said Monday.

(Photo courtesy: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

On Sunday, August 9, inspectors stopped two 27-year-old citizens of Russia who arrived from Moscow and applied for admission into the United States, according to Jaime Ruiz of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The travelers initially declared they were bringing four dogs for their vacation in Mexico.

“Upon review of the four dogs’ medical history, CDC officials determined that the documentation accompanying the four dogs was fraudulent because the dogs’ ages were falsified on their rabies vaccination certificates and they were too young to receive rabies vaccination,” Ruiz said.

CBP personnel discovered four other puppies hidden in an abandoned carry-on bag left by the travelers in the inspection area, Ruiz said.

The travelers admitted that they attempted to smuggle eight puppies into the U.S. without the proper import documentation with the intent of delivering them to waiting clients.

One of the travelers stated that she expected to get paid $600 to smuggle the dogs into the U.S.

(Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Both passengers were found inadmissible into the U.S., and returned to Russia, along with the eight puppies.

Smuggled puppies “are an issue of concern because of the high risk of human exposure to deadly animal diseases, including rabies,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, Customs and Border Protection Area Port Director for LAX. “We strongly advise travelers to become familiar with regulations about bringing their pets into the United States.”

Pomeranian is considered a luxury breed; the price of a puppy can go from $500 to up to $1,500 depending on the dog’s pedigree.

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