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Iran’s Black Market is Going to the Dogs

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Yet, as is the case of many other “illegal” activities in Iran, the threat of punishment doesn’t eradicate the action, but rather, pushes it underground, where many Iranians have made an art out of evading authorities and maneuvering loopholes. In the case of dogs, criminalizing them has only created a doggy black market, and the buyers are willing to pay big for what they can’t have. Buying a puppy in Iran can cost anywhere between $500 and $10,000, and the trade is so covert, vendors will sometimes blindfold buyers before taking them to the kennel. “After a while I didn’t know if I was buying a dog or dealing in an international drug trade,” said businessman Ali Shekouri.

“It’s the latest fashion now to buy each other puppies as birthday gifts,” 25-year-old Amin told the Wall Street Journal. He recently bought a German Shepard puppy in a village two hours outside of Tehran.

The sale typically starts online, where popular websites such as Woof Woof Iran Digital Pets, and Persianpet, offer resources and outlets on buying, grooming, and even bragging about the illicit pet pooch. Potential buyers are interviewed, screened, even interrogated to make sure they are not part of the secret police. Importing dogs is illegal, but Iranians traveling from other countries are allowed to bring their pets on commercial flights, so websites like Rashtpet and Petpars smuggle puppies into the country by paying these Iranians to claim the pets as theirs. The practice is common enough that flights from Ukraine have been nicknamed “puppy flights” because of the number of “claimed” dogs it brings into the country. Some dogs are smuggled in as cargo on tour buses and trucks coming in from Armenia and Turkey.

“We have a large and very capable network expanding from Iran to Europe and beyond to help unite Iranians with dogs,” claims the owner of Petpars.

It’s also a network that unites Iranians with both the virtual world and the domestic realm, where they have more freedom behind closed doors than in public spaces. If you can’t change a law, you might as well give it the finger. By banning dogs, the government turned them into novelties, because with them comes not just the desire to emulate the West, but also the urge to defy the Iranian government. Sometimes passive aggression speaks louder than outright protest.


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Photo courtesy of Hamed Saber via flickr.

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12:03PM PST on Nov 18, 2011

Unbelievable!! Yet, true! So sad.

10:59PM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

Idiots & P.O.S. for brains!!! :(

7:26AM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Horrible country

1:35PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

People are becoming more stupid day by day.This time it is supposed to be based on religion.

12:55PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

Poor dogs

2:51PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Poor dogs... there are so many strays all around the world who don't have enough food to survive.

8:09PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

Sad,don't know what else to say.

3:55PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

To Corrine C.
I agree with you that religion has always played a part in something wrong. It can be good with law abiding people that really read the bible and not just say the words. I am not religious but my husband is and we balance each other out so it works.

3:02PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

Milad -- kudos to you -- this was a brave act and i am proud of you. I'm glad that both you and your sweet dog are happy and healthy today, and thankful that the officer didn't use his gun. I'm happy that all the dogs in Iran are so loved. Now, what does it take to convince your government that things have to change when it comes to keeping domestic animals? Can you organize and present your government with proof and how life has changed since the creation of the Koran when it comes to domestic animals? Why can they not see the light? I wish you luck and perseverance and hopefully the beautiful dog can be accepted as another member of the family.

12:37PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

im appalled...

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