Outside of Tehran, Iran lies Vafa Animal Shelter. It’s like any other animal shelter, filled with mutts of various ages and sizes. What makes Vafa Animal Shelter different, is that it’s the only one in Iran, a place where dogs aren’t allowed to go for walks.
The city of Tehran is about 15 million people, and is home to a stray dog population. Walking your dog or being seen in public with a dog can lead to heavy fines. Making it more difficult dogs are seen as a part of Western culture and are frowned upon. Around 30 lawmakers have signed onto a draft bill to punish dog walkers with up to $3,000 in fines and 74 lashes. Adding insult to injury, the small part of the population who do accept dogs prefer purebreds over mutts. Stray dogs are frequently shot point blank in the street and are given no chance. This is where Vafa steps in.
Set up outside of the city, adoptions are slow. For the 500 dogs that are at the shelter only an average of 6 get adopted every month. You may take a dog park for granted but in Tehran this is only a dream. Dogs are banished behind closed doors, a walk in the park is nearly unheard of.
The shelter faces political and cultural stigmatization that North American shelters do not face. The organization is not discouraged. They are helping dogs everyday and have hopes that there will be a time where dogs are welcome in public.
To donate and follow Vafa’s mission visit their Facebook here.