Tehran, Iran’s capital city, has banned the public from walking their dogs in public places and from riding cars, as part of the city’s long-standing campaign to discourage dog ownership.

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi told Young Journalists Club (YJC), a state-run news agency, that the new law was made by Tehran’s Prosecutors Office, because dogs were making a number of people fear for their safety.

An Iranian woman walks her dogs in Tehran’s wealthy Elahiyeh district in 2013.

Besides banning walking dogs in public, the office also banned dogs from riding cars with their owners.

“It is forbidden to drive dogs around in cars and, if this is observed, serious police action will be taken against the car-owners in question,” added Rahimi to YJC.

Rahimi noted that the local police received permission from the judiciary to deal with dog owners who still walk their animal companions in public.

A longstanding controversy

Ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, many pet owners sometimes had their dogs confiscated for walking them in public. The Time Magazine even reported that the Iranian state media lectured citizens on the diseases that can be acquired from dogs starting in the early 2000s.

Most Iran’s Islamic leaders view dogs “unclean” and “a symbol of the pro-Western policy of the ousted monarchy,” according to BBC News.

The BBC reports that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance even banned any media from publishing stories and advertisements related to pets back in 2010.

An Iranian woman pets her dog, Jessica, on a street in downtown Tehran. AFP/Getty Images

There have been various attempts by Iranian officials to criminalize dog ownership in the country, as reported by the New York Times in 2017. Meanwhile, The Guardian even reported about lawmakers proposing punishments for a dog owner caught walking their pets in public.

Those punishments ranged from small fines to lashes and flogging.

A continuous debate is still underway, noting that a number of Iranians are still dog lovers.