Monday, July 18, 2011

Iran's parliament passes a bill criminalizing dog ownership - One more sign that the Mullahs have their heads stuck up their own Six

Jeffrey Massoon in his article " Dogs never lie about love" writes this about our best friend, The Dog:

" other species has ever indicated that it regularly prefers the company of a human to that of members of its own species, with the single exception of the dog. While we have domesticated many animals, only the dog has domesticated us. The dog chooses us, not because it is confused about our identity, not because dogs think we are the marvel of creation, but merely because dogs love us. It is such an amazing fact, and so counterintuitive (so profoundly unlovable do we think we are) that almost nobody can accept it as fact. Dogs love us not only because we feed them, or walk them, or groom them, or protect them, but because we are fun. How astonishing! "

Man and our K-9 Friends made an unwritten agreement about 15000 years ago. We would provide them warmth, shelter and easy access to food - In return, they would protect us from the dangerous things in the dark that wanted to have us for dinner. This "pact" is likley the longest unbroken agreement in the history of mankind.

So, when you come across a segment of our species that mistreats our K-9 friends, calls them "unclean" and further outlaws having a K-9 in your home, it makes me wonder if those folks have a major screw loose. The common-folk in Iran have obviously figured out that the Dog is a perfect companion but the Mullahs and their farked-up version of reality are in serious need of a "check-up from the neck up"

I have serious issues with any group that doesn't recognize our 4-legged companions for what they are...Man's best friend.

A Craze for Pooches in Iran Dogs the Morality Police
Western TV Makes Owning Pups Fashionable, Despite Ayatollah's Fatwa
Farnaz Fassihi/The Wall Street Journal

Iranians have turned to the Internet to organize antigovernment protests. Now they're flocking online to defy another Islamic Republic edict: buying and selling dogs.

Pooch lovers in Iran are clicking on popular websites like Woof Woof Iran Digital Pets and Persianpet to pick their favorite canine, study dog grooming or swap pet tales.

Buying and selling dogs is illegal in Iran, unless they are guard dogs or used by police. Dogs are considered "haram," or unclean, in Islam. Until recently, keeping dogs as pets was limited to a small circle of Westernized Iranians.

But access to satellite television—and American programs depicting families playing with pups—has turned dog ownership into a sign of social status in Iran.

"It's the latest fashion now to buy each other puppies as birthday gifts," says Amin, a 25-year-old. He had never pet a dog until traveling to a village two hours outside Tehran to obtain a German Shepherd puppy.

Authorities are striking back. Last year, Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi issued a fatwa, or religious edict, denouncing dog ownership. In April, Iran's parliament passed a bill to criminalize dog ownership, declaring the phenomenon a sign of "vulgar Western values."

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.

"It was crazy," says Ali Shekouri, a 32-year-old businessman who pursued three dicey strategies before obtaining a local beagle. "After a while I didn't know if I was buying a dog or dealing in an international drug trade."

When Mr. Shekouri set out to buy a puppy last year, a friend first took him to a small electronics shop in downtown Tehran near the grand bazaar. In actuality, it was a front for a middle-aged man selling dogs. After enduring a one-hour intense interview to make sure he wasn't an undercover cop, Mr. Shekouri was whisked away in a car to the kennel's secret location. During the ride, he says, he was blindfolded. He didn't find a pet he liked.

Mr. Shekouri then turned to the Internet for his puppy hunt. A quick Google search provided over a dozen domestic websites scattered across Iran from Rasht, a coastal city in the north, to the southern city of Ahwaz.

The Rashtpet website offers puppies from a database of photos. First the buyer must wire a payment—between $500 and $10,000 depending on the breed—into a bank account. Then the illicit pet is delivered within two weeks by a truck driver who hides the dog amid the cargo, according to Mr. Shekouri and the website.

The Petpars website promises a puppy equipped with a faux international passport hand-carried from Ukraine via a flight passenger. Mr. Shekouri says he was told he would receive his puppy in the arrival lounge of Tehran's international airport. Fed up with the hassle, he eventually settled for a beagle from a local breeder.

Dog-selling websites like Rashtpet and Petpars confirm they import dogs by paying traveling Iranians to act as illicit couriers and claim the puppies are their own. While importing dogs for sale is illegal, passengers are allowed to bring personal pets in on commercial flights.

The flight from Ukraine to Tehran has been nicknamed "the puppy flight" because many of its passengers, mostly university students, are carrying puppies for sale, according to several pet website owners who import from Ukraine.

When airport authorities caught on last year, they increased the tax on importing pets from $50 to $800, according to sellers. Some dog vendors diverted their operation so dogs are transported from Ukraine to Armenia and Turkey and from there smuggled in the cargo section of tour buses and trucks returning to Iran, vendors say.

"We have a large and very capable network expanding from Iran to Europe and beyond to help unite Iranians with dogs," says the 30-year-old owner of Petpars, who asked that his name not be published.

Sanaz, an art student in Tehran, bought a St. Bernard puppy from a student coming from Moscow. Now the dog is the size of a small pony and she doesn't know what to do with it in her small apartment given the restrictions on walking dogs in public.

On the entrance to many of Tehran's parks and neighborhood gardens, a municipality sign reads: "Pets (dogs…) are absolutely prohibited from entering the park."

"I used to take him out for walks but the police have stopped me several times and threatened to confiscate him, so I just take him to the roof of our apartment building now and pray he doesn't bark," says Sanaz, who, like many owners, declined to use her surname for fear of having her pooch confiscated.

Milad, a 24-year-old owner of a white terrier, had a harrowing run-in with the morality police. He was driving home in Tehran with the dog in the front seat from a friend's house when a police car spotted him and signaled for him to pull over. He refused and, he says, the police chased him to the door of his house. He opened the car door to let the dog escape but an officer jumped out and pulled a gun on the dog, he says.

"I threw myself on my dog and said, 'You have to shoot me before you kill him,'" Milad says. A group of neighbors came out to defend him and, he says, eventually the police backed off from killing or confiscating the dog. But they suspended Milad's driver's license for six months and took his car for three months.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at

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