“They bring diseases”, “they cause psychological damage”, Iran thinks of a law against dogs and cats. But it is a battle to save them

“They bring diseases”, “they cause psychological damage”, Iran thinks of a law against dogs and cats. But it is a battle to save them
“They bring diseases”, “they cause psychological damage”, Iran thinks of a law against dogs and cats. But it is a battle to save them

Iran is moving along a prohibitionist line in the field of pets, with a bill being considered by Parliament that will ban the presence, breeding and importation of cats and dogs, among others, and that triggers criticism from environmentalists, artists and citizens. At the center of the public debate is a law proposed by 75 parliamentarians – out of the 295 who sit in the hemicycle – who argue that animals are vectors of disease, “create impurities”, cause “psychological damage” and “stress” as well as “harm people’s spirits” and be “dangerous”. The bill, if approved, would introduce a ban in Iran on the “import, reproduction, breeding, sale or transport of dangerous and dirty animals”, as well as their presence in public spaces. The dangerous animals mentioned in the text include crocodiles, turtles, snakes, chameleons, mice and monkeys, but also other more common ones such as dogs, cats and rabbits.

In the event of an infringement, the perpetrator would be fined 10 to 30 times the minimum wage, as well as having their animals confiscated. Furthermore, the law would however allow some organizations, such as the police, pharmaceutical laboratories and the military, among others, to raise animals. It is established that if a person wants a dog or a cat, he can apply for a special permit from the tax office of each province, which will “investigate” the matter.

For some analysts and scholars, this bill is emblematic of a progressive change of thought and lifestyle in the Iranian republic regarding pets, replacing love and the close ties that can exist with humans, as sanctioned by the Islamic religion. However, in some countries Islam considers the contact between the faithful and an animal as a factor of impurity that prevents the performance of religious rites. For Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, sweat, saliva and hair from dogs “dirty” people and make prayer “invalid”.

In Iran in the 1980s, a building built on land where a dog had walked or urinated was considered unclean. In recent years, on the issue of dogs and pets, a real gap has arisen between the official position of the authorities, which suggest avoiding taking your dog for a walk – even if so far there is no law that formally prohibits it. – and part of the residents of Tehran, especially in the more affluent neighborhoods, increasingly dog ​​lovers. Reactions to the bill range from criticism to irony to support from the more conservative.

“The text of the law is anti-animal rights and goes beyond customary and religious laws,” according to the association of veterinarians. “I don’t know why a group of parliamentarians devote their time and people’s money to tackling this problem instead of solving the real problems of the country. In my opinion it has no logic, ”commented Maryam Talai ‘, animal rights activist and owner of a kennel in Tehran. For lovers and enthusiasts, the “Caffè dei Catti” has opened in the Iranian capital which allows numerous visitors to enjoy the company of felines, 27 of different breeds in all, present on the various floors. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, on average around 100 people attended it every day, mostly women and families with children.

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