Why Iranian Lawmakers Are Attempting To Ban Puppies

Yellow Lab Mother and Puppies
“A dog will look at you as if to say, ‘What do you want me to do for you? I’ll do anything for you.’ ” —Roy Blount Jr.

In A Nutshell

In Iran, the mullahs want to eliminate man’s best friend, and they’re willing to kill some of the dogs to do it. In November 2014, 32 lawmakers introduced a bill to fine any person who buys or sells a pet dog. The human offender can get up to 74 lashes, too. In recent years, the authorities have begun to target lap dogs, sometimes snatching the poor things directly from their owners’ arms. Iran wants to ban ownership of animals that are unclean from a religious standpoint, endanger health, or disturb a person’s peace.

The Whole Bushel

Crazy bans by dictators are nothing new. Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, who died in 2006, prohibited gold teeth, lip syncing, ballet, circuses, and playing car radios.

In North Korea, women can be chased down the street by professional trouser hunters for violating a ban on wearing slacks. This law has been in place since the 1970s but is only enforced sporadically. Most women in pants know how to avoid the authorities. If caught, a woman is investigated for a few hours. Then she must endure a criticism session where she works or lives. Tight trousers are worse than baggy ones. And, of course, even men can’t be seen in blue jeans, the symbol of US imperialism.

In Iran, the mullahs want to eliminate man’s best friend and they’re willing to kill some of the dogs to do it. Apparently, these men have never looked a dog straight in the eyes. Recently, Japanese researchers found that when people and their dogs gaze into each other’s eyes, they bond like mother and baby because each experiences a rush of the love hormone, oxytocin. “If they stand up, the implications of these findings are far-reaching,” wrote Evan MacLean and Brian Hare of the Duke Canine Cognition Center. “The benefits of assistance dogs for individuals with autism or post-traumatic stress disorder—conditions for which oxytocin is currently being used as an experimental treatment—may arise partly through these social pathways.”

The lawmakers in Iran don’t care. In November 2014, 32 of them introduced a bill to fine any person who buys or sells a pet dog. The human offender can get up to 74 lashes, too. The authorities in Iran also want to ban pooches in public. The political will to enforce such a ban waxes and wanes with the mood of the government. They’ve always shot stray dogs on sight. But more recently, the authorities have begun to target lap dogs, sometimes snatching the poor things directly from their owners’ arms.

The problem is that Iranian citizens love their dogs just like their Western counterparts.

One of the sponsors of the proposed law, Ahman Salek, accuses people who own dogs of renouncing the beliefs of the Islamic Revolution. He believes that pet owners are lonely and lacking affection or they want to emulate a Western lifestyle. Neither reason is acceptable to Iranian authorities. They believe that the Internet and foreign media are wrongly influencing Iranian citizens to associate with dogs. Specifically, Salek says that the West erroneously teaches people that dogs will bring them peace.

However, he denies that his bill is only about avoiding Western influences. There’s also the pollution and diseases that dogs bring into their owners’ homes. Finally, Iranian dog owners are unable to pray because the animals’ hair gets on their clothes, making the garments unclean.

Salek says that dogs should never be kept at home. Instead, their place is in a field or police station. If the anti-puppy bill passes, Iranian lawmakers will have three months to draw up a list of banned animals. Salek cites lizards as another example. The criteria for inclusion on the list are those animals that are unclean from a religious standpoint, endanger health, or disturb a person’s peace.

Show Me The Proof

The Telegraph: Saparmurat Niyazov
NK News: No bikes, no trousers: North Korea’s strange rules for women
The Guardian: Dogs are man’s best friend thanks to bonding hormone, research shows
The Daily Beast: The Iranian Mullahs’ Crazy War on Lap Dogs