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The Complicated Issue of Dogs in Iran


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Like all in the Middle East, issues are complicated – even the topic of ‘man’s best friend.’

Here’s a story about saving dogs at an animal shelter just outside Tehran. In fact, it’s may be the only animal shelter in Iran, a nation of over 70 million people. No one knows how many homeless pets wander streets and the countryside, but we’re talking many, too many – cats too.

According to Debra White’s nice piece, she quotes Niloofar Asgharian, an Iranian
student in the US, who in 2007 raised money for VAFA (the shelter) says. “They (dogs) feel the
pain and misery that man inflicts on them.”

But not all in Iran feel that way. Many Iranians and Iranians living in the U.S. included maintain dogs are dirty and shouldn’t be kept with people, and people should even stay away according to the Koran. But the few religious experts I’ve spoken with (Koran experts who read this chime in, please) say that is absolutely not true. The Koran, they say, says nothing about not having dogs or that dogs are unclean – that it is not a religious issue but a cultural one. Ironic it’s the same culture that is, in part anyway, responsible for early dogs.

Here’s stupidity: As recent as 2007, in Iran, there was a move to ‘arrest dogs’ (that means capture and kill), claiming dogs are Western influence. That’s stupid because originally dogs were indeed from the Middle East, and also China – not the West.

A quote from a blog: “In Islam dogs are impure, so anybody who keeps dogs has, for example,
wash his or her hands after petting dogs. I think that he/she has to
clean carpet if the dog’s been there 7 times before praying on it, and
so forth. That’s why IRI is so against keeping the dogs at home, they
think that if somebody has a dog this person is not a good Muslim.

Of course, science nowhere indicates dogs are a health risk. In fact, WE KNOW the benefits of having a dog FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR outweigh whatever risk there may be (assuming dogs are appropriately vaccinated for rabies). And it turns out, having dogs and being a good Muslim really have nothing to do with one another. 

I know it’s immature of me to use this photo – I should have chosen a shelter dog in Iran, or just one of many street dogs there. So, with my not so sincere apologies – here this is.

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