Pet Dog Ownership to be Banned in Iran
April 25, 2011
According to the Daily Mail, the Iranian Parliment that will criminalize dog ownership has been drafted. The claim is that “impure and dangerous” dogs create a health problem and that dog ownership “poses a cultural problem, a blind imitation of the vulgar Western culture.” If the dogs are ‘working dogs’ and not considered pets, e.g. allowed in the home, they will skirt this ban.
Exceptions are allowed for guard dogs, sheep dogs and specially trained dogs like those that detect bombs or drugs or search and rescue dogs.
Of course, there’s the issue of the Muslim’s faith position on dogs. Some quick research reveals that they are considered ‘ritually unclean’ and the Sunni tradition holds that the prophet Muhammed did not like dogs. Having a dog counted against one’s good deeds in life, according to this view.
There are some bright spots in the Muslim take on animals in general, though. You are not permitted to mistreat them, beat them unnecessarily, mutilate them, brand them on the face or have them fight each other for entertainment.
From a Western point of view, where most dogs are pets in the home, this ban seems draconian. To deny the benefits of companionship and joy that we get from our dogs, even if they don’t contribute to the bottom line, throws in high relief the clash of cultures between the West and the Middle East. It also makes clear the difference between secular governments and those run by an established state religion.
The fact of this proposed ban makes me sad, followed immediately by concern over the fate of all the current pet dogs in Iran. How likely is it that they will be humanely disposed of?
But does any one of us in the West have a right to object? Just as hysteria has been fanned in the States about Sharia law being imposed on non-Muslims, we can’t really claim that banning pet dogs is not the right of Iranian Parliment. Their behavior is consistent with their beliefs.
And I think they are correct in their judgement that Western cultural values are in direct contrast to the kind of society they want to have. I just know how my life has been enriched by all the dogs that have passed through it. I imagine that every pet dog owner in Iran feels the same way.