- Ali Hamedani
- bbc news
“He looks at me with his innocent, beautiful eyes. He asks me to take him for a walk, but I don’t have the courage to do so. We’ll be arrested.”
Mahsa, who has a dog at his home in Tehran, was referring to the city’s new order to seize pets and arrest their owners.
In Iran’s capital, Tehran, police recently announced that walking dogs in their parks is now a “crime”. This restriction has been declared necessary from the point of view of “public safety”.
At the same time, after months of debate, the Iranian parliament will soon pass a bill called “Protection of people’s rights against animals.” Once this is done, keeping pets like dogs and cats in homes across the country will become a crime.
According to the bill, pets can only be kept in homes if a permit is obtained from a special commission set up for them.
Under this law, a minimum fine of about $ 800 can also be imposed for “importing, selling, transporting and owning” many animals such as cats, turtles, rabbits.
Dr Payam Mohebi, president of the Iranian Veterinary Association, who opposed the bill, spoke to the BBC.
“The debate over this bill began about a decade ago. At that time a group of parliamentarians in Iran tried to enact a law to capture all dogs and deliver them to zoos or release them into the desert.” he said.
Dr. Mohebi says, “Over the years, he amended the bill twice. He even talked about giving corporal punishment to dog owners. However, his plan did not materialize.”
Iranian urban life dogs are symbols of it
Having dogs has always been common in the peoples of Iran, but over the past century, having pets even in cities has become a symbol of the urban lifestyle.
When Iran enacted an animal welfare law in 1948, it was one of the few countries in West Asia to do so.
After that, the government helped create the country’s first organization to promote animal rights. Even the royal family of the country had companion dogs.
However, the Islamic revolution that took place in the country in 1979 changed many things related to the lives of the people and dogs of Iran.
Animals are considered “unclean” in Islam. Thus, in the eyes of the new government formed after the Islamic Revolution, dogs also became a symbol of “Westernization.” In this situation, officials tried to curb this trend.
Tehran veterinarian Ashkan Shemirani told the BBC there has never been a firm rule about having dogs.
According to him, “the police arrest people when they walk their dogs or take them to their cars. According to the police, the people who do this are a sign of Westernization.”
There is also a dog prison in Iran
Ashkan Shemirani says, “The government has also built a dog prison. We have heard many horror stories about this prison. The dogs were kept there in the open air for many days without enough food or water. There the dogs The owners they faced all kinds of dogs. legal problems. “
The economic crisis created by Western economic sanctions imposed on Iran for years has also played an important role in the introduction of this new bill.
The importation of pet food is banned for more than three years to protect Iran’s foreign exchange reserves.
In this market dominated by foreign brands, this decision of the government made the market for its black marketing ready and also became very expensive.
The owner of a veterinary clinic in Mashhad, Iran, told the BBC: “We now depend heavily on the people who supply these foods in secret. Now their prices have almost doubled.”
They claim that these locally prepared foods are not of standard quality. According to him, “its quality is very poor. Cheap meat or fish is used to prepare it, even expired goods are used.”
Not just dogs, but cats as well
The proposed laws will not be a problem just for dogs. Cats are also the target of this. Crocodiles are also mentioned in this law.
Iran has been famous as the birthplace of the “Persian cat.” It is one of the most famous cat breeds in the world.
A Tehran veterinarian told the BBC: “Can you believe that even Persian cats are no longer safe in their homeland? There is no logic in this law. Radicals just want to make people feel their power “.
At the same time, the president of the Iranian Veterinary Association, Dr. Mohebi, described the bill as “shameful”.
“If Parliament passes this bill, future generations will remember us as people who banned dogs and cats,” he says.
Many pet owners in Iran, such as Mahsa, are very concerned about the future of their pets.
“I wouldn’t dare ask permission for my ‘son.’ What if they reject my application? I can’t leave him on the road,” he says.