No dogs allowed? Iran plans to nationally ban ‘dangerous and noxious’ pets

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Iran’s parliament is proposing legislation that would ban most domestic animals in the name of protecting the country from the dangerous influence of “unclean” animals.

Under the invoice on “Protecting Public Rights Against Dangerous and Pest Animals,” prepared by die-hard conservative lawmakers on November 17, Iranians would be banned from owning, raising and transporting dogs, cats, rabbits and other common pets.

Keeping “wild animals” such as snakes, lizards, crocodiles, mice, monkeys, donkeys and turtles would also be prohibited if the legislation was approved, and violators would face heavy penalties.

Payam Mohebi, a senior member of the Iranian Society of Veterinarians, scoffed at the idea of ​​such a diverse list of animals being put together. “Certainly, in my opinion, as a vet, a rabbit, a mouse, a crocodile, a dog, a cat and a turtle cannot be classified in the same category in terms of danger,” he said. to Radio Farda from RFE / RL on November 18.

“Danger in what sense?” He asked, noting that in the case of exotic animals, like crocodiles, certain sanitary protocols are in place.

“Impure, non-Islamic”

Authorities have attempted to introduce similar restrictions on pets in recent years, as owning dogs and other pets has become more popular despite arguments from the religious establishment that keeping them indoors houses is against hygiene and against Islam. Cases of people attacked by stray dogs have also fueled calls for restrictions.

But while previous attempts to restrict pet possession through local dog walking and transport bans have largely failed or encountered resistance, the latest proposal would be nationwide and then comes in. that hard-line supporters increase their influence after the election of ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in June.

An animal control officer catches a stray dog ​​on the outskirts of Tehran.

Under the bill drafted by 75 hard-line supporters in the 290-seat parliament, Iranians caught in possession of such pets three months after the bill was passed would face confiscation of their animals and fines of 10 to 30 times the official monthly minimum wage value. At the current rate, that could mean payments of around $ 1,300 to $ 3,900.

Landlords who fail to enforce rules for their tenants would face the same fine and law enforcement would be required to investigate neighbors’ complaints for violations.

The proposed amendments to the existing penal code would also prohibit Iranians from walking their pets, and those who transport them would face fines and confiscation of their vehicles.

Personal exemptions are possible for villagers, nomads and shepherds who need dogs for their subsistence or to guard their property, upon approval of local municipal and provincial committees made up of members of the police, health services , veterinary associations and government.

Organizations, including universities and laboratories, would be allowed to keep the animals in question for scientific research.

A policeman writes a ticket for a family with a dog in their car.

A policeman writes a ticket for a family with a dog in their car.

Mohebi questioned the thinking behind the bill. “No scientific expertise has been devoted to this legislation,” he said. “There was no consultation with the Iranian Society of Veterinarians. I doubt a veterinarian was consulted.”

We do not know when the bill will be considered.

“Western depravity” causing “fear and panic”

Dog ownership has been a hot issue in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with the establishment viewing the practice as “morally depraved” and a sign of Western influence.

In recent years, however, dog ownership has become more popular, especially among young people and the wealthy, who view their toy dogs as a status symbol.

The trend has aroused the ire of hard-line supporters across the country, particularly in Tehran, where city officials banned dogs in city parks and streets this summer following pressure from government officials. preservatives.

Mohammad Hossein Hamidi, the head of the capital’s traffic police, also announcement in July, that officers would crack down on cage-free dogs in vehicles, saying they were a distraction for drivers. The company should “try to establish an Islamic way of life,” he said, adding that “dog breeding causes fear and panic” among the public.

Senior officials also intervened, with Chief Prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri saying Iranian culture should contradict what he described as “the degenerate culture of the West”, including his love of dogs. Calling dogs an “unclean animal”, Montazeri said that they “should not be part of the life of Muslims”.

In 2007, Tehran tightened on dogs by placing animals in pounds even in cases where they were accompanied on a walk by their owners.

In 2014, lawmakers proposed legislation that punish people who walk their dogs in public with 74 lashes, confiscation of the animal and a fine of over $ 3,500, although the measure was not passed.

This bill too targeted monkeys and demanded that the confiscated animals be transferred to a “zoo, forest or desert” and that “the promotion of dog walking” by the media be criminalized.

The current bill does not mention what could happen to the animals it targets, but authorities’ treatment of stray animals has sparked an outcry from citizens and animal rights activists.

Graphic examples of animal cruelty posted on social media in recent years, including one in which stray dogs in a Tehran suburb are seen die in agony after being injected with an unknown substance and another in which a hunter is seen beat his dogled to protests in Iranian cities, including Tehran.

Such efforts, including an online campaign calling for legislation to prevent animal abuse, have been awarded with a bill calling for a ban on torture and harassment of animals.

In June, the bill was pass by parliament after years of deliberation.

Written by Michael Scollon based on a report by Radio Farda by RFE / RL


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