Dog walking in public and driving them in cars set to be prohibited in Iran
Walking dogs in public or driving them around in cars is set to be banned in Iran.
Now dog owners fear their pets will be 'arrested' if they are caught in public and they could also face a fine.
It is the latest attempted crackdown on dogs in the country, where the animals are viewed as unclean
In 2011, authorities threatened to criminalise dog ownership and said the growing popularity of keeping the pets 'poses a cultural problem, blind imitation of the vulgar Western culture'.
Deputy police chief Ahmad Reza Radan told the Fars news agency that they 'will confront those who walk their dogs in the streets. Cars carrying dogs will also be impounded.'
However the Iranian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has questioned whether this is illegal and said that now law forbids dog ownership, according to AFP.
It said dozens of dogs had been 'arrested' and were taken to 'undisclosed locations'.
According to animal supporters, this crackdown is more series than previous attempts.
Payam Mohebi, a pet hospital chief from Tehran, was quoted as saying: 'Owners are being told that their dogs will be killed, and no paper (confirming the confiscation) is given to them.'
Dog owners are now walking their pets at night to avoid detection.
In June 2010 Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirzi warned that dog ownership would lead to family corruption and damage societal values.
'Many people in the West love their dogs more than their wives and children,' he said.
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance then banned all media from publishing adverts about pets, according to AFP.
Despite the threats, sales of dogs are still booming.
Pet shop owners and vets said sales of dogs have risen sharply in recent years.
Pet foods and grooming kits are available at most supermarkets and dog training schools and 'dog hotels' have even sprung up in the country.
They are not allowed to keep dogs inside the shop and say they only bring them into public when a deal has been made.
Dogs are considered 'unclean' but guard dogs are common and tolerated, although they are not usually allowed into homes.
Specially trained dogs, such as those that detect drugs, or sheepdogs are also allowed.
It has become increasingly fashionable in well-to-do Tehran neighbourhoods to keep dogs – especially expensive pedigrees – as status symbols.
Customers are opting for 'tiny' dogs such as Chihuahuas that make less noise and are easier to hide during walks or car trips.