Pampered pooches may not be everyone's idea of "man's best friend", but a bill proposed by politicians in Iran could take this sentiment to a new extreme – by criminalising dog ownership.
According to Time magazine, the draft legislation is the first time MPs in Tehran have outlined specific punishments for "the walking and keeping" of "impure and dangerous animals", which many believe directly targets Iran's canine population. If the bill were passed, the illegal animal would be confiscated and the owner fined up to £300, but the bill does not clarify what fate would await the seized animals.
Islamic tradition considers dogs, like pigs, to be "unclean" animals. Despite this, keeping dogs as pets has become an increasingly popular pastime among the Iranian middle class in recent years – a trend which the new bill describes as "a cultural problem, a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the West".
There is no official estimate of Iran's canine population, but Iranian vets estimate that thousands of dogs are kept as pets in Tehran alone. The proposed bill builds on another motion tabled last week, which plans to ban dogs from public places and private flats, according to news reports.
Current laws already forbid dog owners from allowing their pets to ride with them in their cars, and from walking their dogs in public places, but these are rarely enforced.