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All Are Taken to Kahrizak To Die: 60 Dogs Die After Being Seized by Police

By Niyosha Saremi, Rooz Online

The first news about a massive rounding up of domestic dogs appeared during the first week of May. These dogs were forcefully seized from their owners and transferred to Kahrizak. On May 26th, reports appeared to show that a third of the about 150 dogs that were kept in Kahrizak had lost their life. Reza Javalchi, the spokesperson for Iran's Society for Animal Protection told Radio Farda, "About 60 of these dogs have died and since the remaining dogs are kept in critical adverse conditions, about two or three of them every day." He attributed their death to various viral and respiratory illnesses.

Policemen with a detained dog

It is now more than 20 days that the owners of these days have gone to various government offices to find their pets, but nobody gives them a straight answer. Since 60 dogs have already been reported to have died, the concern of the dog owners is amplified.

About a month ago, deputy police chief Ahmad-Reza Radan announced the launch of a "moral security" program aimed at combating dogs that were outside with their owners. "We shall not allow a group of people to engage in street walks with their dogs or carry them in their cars, thus displaying themselves and their dogs to the public," he said.

This is not the first time that domesticated dogs are being rounded up under the guise of some "social security" program. In the past however, pet owners were given a receipt for their confiscated dog and could follow up their case with the authorities. Not this time.

Sahar, one such dog owner, described to Rooz how her dog was taken from her while she had taken him for a walk. "As soon as I saw them coming, I held my puppy in my lap and sat down. When they reached me they told me they were not concerned with my dog and told me to put him down. But as soon as I did that, they unleashed my dog and took him away. I protested and yelled, and ran after them begging them to return my dog. One of them mocked me by telling me to ask my dad to buy me another one," she said. When I asked them where should I come to get him back, they simply said go to the graveyard. It is now 17 days that she has gone everywhere looking for her pet, but can't find him.

Mohammad-Reza is another victim of pet abuse but his story is more violent. He said that as he was walking in the Gheytarieh park with his dog, a policeman pushed him and hit his dog under his belly. When I protested, the policeman kicked my dog on his head and snatched him from me and threw him into a sack, next to another one victim. My pleas to give him back and questions about where they were taking him produced no results. I spoke with an attorney in the hope of finding my pet. I have looked all over but to no avail.

Man with dog running in a Tehran street

The seizure of domesticated dogs and their transfer to Kahrizak, where they are kept under very poor conditions, has brought forth protests from animal rights activists and also jurists. In addition, Iran's Veterinary Society issued a statement announcing that seizing domesticated dogs had no legal basis. "Currently there is no written law in the country against domesticated animals. Even if such an act is an offense, the police should detain the owner not the animal. What is done now is not done anywhere in the world," the statement read.

The statement also warned about the health hazards for the animals and those who kept them under unsanitary conditions.

Bahman Keshavarz, an attorney and the former head of Iran's bar association, wrote a newspaper piece about the illegality of seizing dogs. He argued that depriving a person of his possession without judicial process was unlawful and unacceptable and that any damage of such acts was the responsibility of the perpetrators.

Dogs in Iran in general have gone through harsh periods in recent years. This is attested by the many protests that animal rights activists have filed in this regard. Dogs are sometimes killed en masse in various Iranian cities, whose newspapers publish disturbing photos of the deaths.

Saeed S, a veterinary physician told Rooz, "Perhaps because human rights in Iran are violated so grossly that killing of dogs and their torture does not seem such a prominent event any longer. If such acts were committed in other countries, the media would focus on them."

According to this vet, since dogs are considered unclean in Islam, any action against them becomes acceptable. He added that the culture of inflicting pain on dogs is taught to children at an early age, Payam Mohebi, the deputy president of Iran's Veterinary Society echoed these words. "Even objects or animals that are deemed unclean, there are specific religious edicts in handling them. What is happening is the police's narrow interpretation of this issue. Religion defines how these issues should be addressed and dealing with it personality and through force is one sided," he said.

Saeed S. pointed out that most domesticated dogs in Iran had ID or registration cards. "It is strange that in our country most dogs have official IDs from the Veterinary Organization but police agents kick these pets and treat them violently, or take them to unsanitary places. One should ask the commander of the police that if keeping dogs is unlawful, then how come they are officially imported into the country, are sold officially and they are given IDs. Police officers have proved that they have no mercy on human beings and what happened at Kahrizak prison attests to that, let alone what they think and do to dogs."

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