That’s because the government has begun confiscating dogs from people who are walking them outdoors – or even driving with them in their cars.
Traditionally, dogs have been considered “unclean” in Iran – as pigs are in Egypt. But more and more, people are buying them from pet breeders and treating them as family members.
While this has long been frowned on by the Iranian theocracy, it was not previously treated as a major problem. But increasingly, especially in well-to-do suburbs of Iran, people are seeking out “purebreds” with pedigrees as status symbols, dressing them up in Western designer clothes and jewelry, and driving them around in fancy cars and showing them off in the park.
People are buying “purebreds” with pedigrees and dressing them up in Western designer clothes and jewelry.
“They want to have a dog, to brag, like they want to have an expensive luxury car,” veterinary pharmacologist Soroush Mobaraki told the French news agency AFP.
Three years ago, Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirzi called the new fashion a “blind imitation” of Western culture that could damage societal values.
“Many people in the West love their dogs more than their wives and children,” he said.
(Guilty as charged, many Americans might admit!)
The Iranian SPCA is pushing back against the new rules. And the former head of the National Union of Iranian Court Attorneys, Bahman Keshavarz, says pets can only be legally taken away if their guardian fails to observe hygiene standards.
“Confiscating pets without a judicial verdict is unacceptable,” he told the newspaper Bahar.
But he may be talking into the wind. In previous crackdowns,dogs were being returned home after their owners paid a fine and signed a pledge to observe the moral code. But many dog guardians are saying that that’s no longer the case and that dogs are being taken away and then being “disappeared.”