TEHRAN: Dog lovers in central Iran are in uproar after authorities began confiscating their pets in an apparent crackdown on the "vulgar Western culture" of canine ownership, Iranian media reported Saturday.
One unnamed dog owner in Shahin Shahr in Isfahan province told Iran's Shahrvand newspaper that officials had shown up suddenly at his house last week.
"We were shown a piece of paper indicating they were from the municipal veterinary office. They came in and took away our dogs under the pretext of vaccination," he said.
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The owner was told he could recover the dog after its vaccination, but when he went to the vet's office they had no record of his case.
Instead, the newspaper said the confiscations were the result of a crackdown launched by local prosecutor Mohsen Boosaidi.
Dog-lover Neda plays with strays at the Vafa animal shelter in the town of Hashtgerd, west of the Tehran on June 30. PHOTO: AFP
"Keeping and caring for dogs is haram (forbidden) according to religious leaders," Boosaidi told the Fars news agency on June 19.
"If we find out that anyone is keeping and caring for dogs and so is promoting vulgar Western culture, we will deal with them firmly."
Dog confiscations in the town began three days later, Shahrvand reported. It did not give precise numbers, but said a number of families had lost their pets.
"Ever since our dog was taken away, you only hear the sound of crying and sobbing in our house," the Shahin Shahr owner said.
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Javid Al-e Davood, the head of Iran's Society For Protection of Animals, said such confiscations were illegal and that the prosecutor was "absolutely wrong" about the Islamic attitude to dogs.
"Keeping dogs has not been regarded as haram in any religious book. Associating keeping dogs with Western culture is distorting the history of Islamic and Iranian civilisation," he said.
An Iranian man trims a Terrier named Jessi, at Tehran Pet Hospital in Iran on June 23. PHOTO: AFP
Dogs are considered najes (unclean) in Islam and police often stop and fine dog walkers. However, Iran's authorities have stated that dogs with a clear role -- such as guarding property or guiding the blind -- are permitted.
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In a wry letter to the prosecutor published on his organisation's website, Al-e Davood said confiscating people's pets was a strange priority for the authorities.
"We are very happy that all the problems of the country have been resolved and that the presence of a few guard dogs in people's homes is the last remaining problem for the people of Shahin Shahr, which you have set out to resolve," he wrote.
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