'Adopt instead of shop'

National Puppy Day was declared in 2006 to promote pet companionship and to raise awareness about puppy mills.

Between the licks, the snuggles, and the love your puppies give you, they deserve a day dedicated to them.

That's why National Puppy Day was declared in 2006.

"It's a time to celebrate our connection and companionship with our pets," Quincy Humane Society Executive Director Sally Westerhoff said.

The celebration also was created to bring awareness to a serious issue in the canine world.

"It's also a good time to think about adopting from a shelter rather than buying from a pet store where puppies generally come from puppy mills and the parents live in horrific conditions," Westerhoff said. "They live in cages their entire lives and their only purpose is to breed litter after litter."

There are more than 8,000 puppy mills and so-called "backyard breeders" in the nation.

Westerhoff has seen firsthand what a puppy mill is really like.

"It's just heartbreaking," Westerhoff said. "The conditions are just awful. These dogs live in itty-bitty cages with wire floors, they never get out on grass and they just live there and get bred cycle after cycle and have these puppies that go out all over the U.S.."

What can you do? Westerhoff suggests you give your puppy a hug. If you're in the market for a canine companion, think about going to your local shelter first.

"Getting your pet from a shelter supports your local community and it also helps us save lives," Westerhoff said.

In other words, follow the National Puppy Day motto ... "Adopt, don't shop!" Westerhoff said.

You can see KHQA's Pets of the Month, here.

Learn more about the Quincy Humane Society's available pets, here.