CARMEL (CBS SF) — The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for Monterey County is looking for anyone who bought or took any puppies from a transient who was selling them illegally, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Puppies cannot be sold while under 8 weeks old, but two 5-week-old pit bull mixes were given away within the past few days at The Crossroads, a shopping center in Carmel, SPCA spokeswoman Beth Brookhouser said.

READ MORE: Police Officers Denied Service At San Francisco Restaurant Triggering Negative Reviews, Social Media Backlash

The puppies’ owner, a transient in his late 20s, was illegally selling or handing out the young animals, who were too young to be separated from their mother, Brookhouser said.

The owner is described as a transient white man with dark brown hair who is well-known by locals, she said.

The SPCA found out about the unlawful sales through an anonymous tip from someone who saw the suspicious man carrying a box of puppies outside a Safeway grocery store at the shopping center Monday afternoon, Brookhouser said.

SPCA humane officers were able to locate the man at a nearby pet store washing the puppies and took the animals into custody, she said.

They were concerned the puppies’ health would be in danger since the man lived outside and near-freezing temperatures were expected that night, Brookhouser said.

The man, who has not been named, was cited and scheduled for a court appearance in March, she said.

Selling a puppy under 8 weeks old is considered a misdemeanor in California unless the transaction is approved in writing from a state-licensed veterinarian, according to Brookhouser.

The man claimed the puppies were vaccinated, but there is no history of any such vaccinations, she said.

READ MORE: SF Civic Center BART Station Reopens After 2-Hour Closure Sunday Morning

Humane officers tried to reunite the three puppies with their mother, but the owner was not cooperative and became belligerent, according to Brookhouser.

The officers plan to conduct a welfare check for the puppies’ mother, the spokeswoman said.

The remaining puppies are being kept with the SPCA, where they are getting socialized, learning how to eat solid food and receiving “a lot of love,” she said.

The three puppies will be up for adoption in the next few weeks, according to Brookhouser.

The other puppies that have not been accounted for are at risk for catching or spreading possibly fatal illnesses, Brookhouser said.

People who do have the outstanding puppies would not be in any trouble and the SPCA just wants to ensure they are safe, she said.

Anyone with information on the illegal sales is asked to call the SPCA at (831) 373-2631. Reports of animal cruelty or neglect or donations for rescued animals can be made online at

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

MORE NEWS: Bob Dole Dead at 98