As the festive season draws closer animal welfare organisations are reminding the public that live animals should never be given as Christmas presents.
The reminders came amidst reports that a Paralimni church had requested that puppies be donated to be passed on to destitute families as children's pets this festive season.
The priest of St Barbara's Church in Paralimni has denied the reports, saying that neither he, the church's clerics or its parish committee were aware of such a campaign.
He said an individual acting on their own devices had been responsible for the request and underlined it had not been made by the church or any organised group.
The reported campaign sparked widespread criticism on social media sites while animal welfare groups including Cyprus Voice for Animals and the Nicosia Dog Shelter called on people to think twice before giving pets as Christmas presents.
CVA President Mary Anastasi issued a statement saying that the newspaper report had led to many animal welfare organisations under its umbrella being inundated with phone calls from shocked citizens.
"We would like to believe that the call for puppies to be given to the children of destitute families was made in good faith but as responsible citizens we are directly against this type of adoption," she said.
Anastasi said that getting a pet was a major responsibility and a significant additional financial expense for its owner throughout the dog's life including getting the animal registered, microchipped, vaccinated and neutered or sterilised as well as feeding it and taking it to the vet.
She also noted, "animals are not soulless objects to be given as gifts for the holidays and thrown away when the festive season is over. Children cannot look after a dog on their own and, if their parents can't either, the dog will soon end up on the streets or in a shelter".
Anastasi also noted that it was against local and European law for a minor to own a dog.
The busy festive season is, in addition, not a good time to introduce a new addition to the household, she said, adding that the financial crisis had already led to ever more dogs being abandoned.
"Poor and destitute families cannot shoulder the extra financial expense of having a dog. These children should be given a different kind of gift — there are so many possibilities out there — and also clothes," Anastasi said.
Nicosia Dog Shelter's Facebook site re-posted a message from its former long-term supervisor Sharon Beckett listing all the things people should take into account before getting a dog including whether they were able to afford one, understood that it was a lifetime commitment and that parents were the ones that usually ended up having to take day to day care of pets.
"Even if you are not the type who treats their pets like babies having a dog is similar to having a child. It is a constant responsibility," Beckett noted.