Iran: SO Not a Good Place to Own a Dog

In many Western countries, we can get a little grumpy about the way our dogs don't always have the kind of public access we'd like...

Maria Goodavage  |  Jul 19th 2011


In many Western countries, we can get a little grumpy about the way our dogs don’t always have the kind of public access we’d like them to enjoy. We growl that there aren’t enough dog parks, we howl that they’re not allowed at restaurants, we bark when a cop tells us to put our dogs on a leash on the beach. Yada, yada, yada…

Try living in Iran.

Life as a dog lover lover in many other places in the world is a walk in the park compared to a dog lover’s life in Iran. In April the Dogster dog blog wrote about the issue, and it’s only gotten worse since then. The Wall Street Journal just ran an excellent, updated, eye-opening article about life with dogs in Iran.

In Islam, dogs are considered unclean, or “haram.” Dog ownership by a small number of Westerners there was tolerated, but last year, after owning a dog became all the rage among some Iranians, Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi issued an edict (“fatwa”) denouncing dog ownership. In April, Iran’s parliament passed a bill that criminalizes dog ownership. Dogs were declared a sign of “vulgar Western values.”

Want to feel better about the community where you and your dog live? Take a look at some of the highlights of the article:

Buying and selling dogs is illegal in Iran, unless they are guard dogs or used by police. (Author’s note: Adopting is out, too.)
This summer, so-called morality police are cruising the streets looking to enforce the anti-dog law. The punishment varies from a fine of up to $500 if the dog is seen in a public space to temporarily confiscating cars and suspending drivers’ licenses if the dog isn’t contained in a carrier inside the car.
To evade detection, pooch owners are resorting to middle-of-the-night walks and driving hours to the countryside just so their pets can roam. Vendors charge the equivalent of up to $10,000 for top dogs and operate so covertly that some blindfold potential buyers en route to the kennel.

And you should see what Iranians have to go through to obtain a dog. You could make a full-length movie out of it.

The article is worth a read if you care about dogs in other countries or if you just want to feel better about your situation. (For the record: I will not be writing a Dog Lover’s Companion to Iran anytime soon.)