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If you're thinking of taking your pet along with you to romp on a California beach, make sure you do a little research. For one thing, dogs are restricted from most public beaches in the L.A. area. To find out where you can bring man's best friend, check out the online Pets Welcome service (www.petswelcome.com). The site also lists pet-related publications, medical travel tips, and resources.

A good book to carry along is The California Dog Lover's Companion: The Insider's Scoop on Where to Take Your Dog, a 900-page source for complete statewide listings of fenced dog parks, dog-friendly beaches, and other indispensable information.

Los Angeles has strict leash laws (including stiff penalties for failing to pick up waste), prompting the formation of a dog owner/supporter group called Freeplay (tel. 310/379-1207; www.freeplay.org). Contact them for the latest developments on dog-related issues, including information on off-leash parks around town.

In the event that your pet requires medical care while you're visiting, call or visit the California Animal Hospital, 1736 S. Sepulveda Blvd., stes. A-B (south of Santa Monica Blvd.), Los Angeles (tel. 310/479-3336). The Animal Surgical and Emergency Center (tel. 310/473-1561), 1535 S. Sepulveda Blvd., is open 24 hours a day. The website www.thepetplace.org is another good source for emergency animal clinics.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.