Iranian pet lovers are in uproar after dogs were confiscated in a crackdown on ‘vulgar Western culture’.
One unnamed dog owner in the Isfahan province, central Iran, said officials had shown up suddenly at his house.
Officers who claimed to be from a veterinary practice took the dog away because it needed to have ‘vaccinations’.
The owner told Iran’s Shahrvand newspaper: ‘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. Ever since our dog was taken away, you only hear the sound of crying and sobbing in our house.’
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.
The confiscations were the result of a crackdown launched by local prosecutor Mohsen Boosaidi, according to local reports.
Boosaidi said: ‘Keeping and caring for dogs is haram (forbidden) according to religious leaders.
‘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 of Shahin Shahr began three days later and are believed to have involved a number of families.
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,’ he said.
‘Associating keeping dogs with Western culture is distorting the history of Islamic and Iranian civilisation,’ he said.
Dogs are considered unclean in Islamic customs 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.
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.