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FOR MUTTS SOLD AS PUREBREDS, PAYBACK TIME

Bob and Donna Cochran were both going through a severe bout of depression when their doctor recommended they get a dog.

"They are really a good antidepressant," Bob Cochran, 60, of Safety Harbor said Monday.

In October 2005, the Cochrans located a teacup chihuahua being sold by Vilisity Stow of Clearwater. Stow told them that the dog would get no bigger than 3 pounds and that they would receive American Kennel Club papers authenticating the dog's breed. The Cochrans paid $500. But those papers never came, and Yoyo is now 10 pounds. "(Stow) told us they were in the mail," Bob Cochran said Monday after testifying during a pretrial hearing in Pinellas County.

Stow, 29, avoided 12 years in prison by agreeing Monday to pay $42,649.55 in restitution to 38 people who bought dogs from her, including Cochran. She also received three years' probation.

Her crime: claiming the dogs were purebreds when they weren't and not providing medical documentation. Stow's no-contest plea also requires her to place an ad in the St. Petersburg Times apologizing and to pay $450 in court costs. She is banned from selling, breeding, brokering or dealing in dogs while on probation.

A version of this story appears in some regional editions of the Times.

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