The Iranian government is proposing a complete ban on dogs in the cities and suburbs, and this has the country’s shelters struggling to find the animals new homes abroad.
PAWS Companion Animal Shelter in Lynnwood took in two of the dogs from Vafa Animal Shelter and they say they may take in more in the future.
A Border Collie mix named Shabnam (Farasi for “morning dew”) became the first PAWS rescue. After flying 19 hours in a cargo hold from Tehran to Seattle, she was frightened and visibly shaken upon arrival, but within a week she was adopted and is now living happily in her new home.
A second dog was also adopted within a week.
PAWS spokesman Mark Coleman says the shelter was one of several asked by the Humane Society International to take in a few dogs.
Coleman said while the focus of PAWS has always been serving the local community, they still have the ability to take in transfers from other state and local shelters. Last year they took in more than 1,000 cats and dogs from shelters around Washington State.
“In the case of the Iranian dogs, we were just one of several shelters asked by the Humane Society International to take a small number of these animals,” he said. “The commitment required for these animals was small compared to the other 3,000-plus cats and dogs we found homes for last year."
“So when you look at the big picture, this was simply an opportunity to be good ‘global citizens’ at a time when we had the space, the manpower, and the resources.”
Farah Ravon, Vafa Animal Shelter’s US Representative, says the actual law in Iran banning dogs has not yet been passed, but police take it upon themselves to harass people who have pets.
“The latest we've heard is just a few days ago, police went to an apartment complex which houses many feral cats and residents who own pet dogs, they beat up an older woman and took away her Shih Tzu,” she said. “The family is still desperately trying every avenue to get their dog back and have had no luck yet.”
Ravon says most dogs do not ever have a chance to be adopted in Iran.
“Culturally, people of Iran have no interest in street dogs,” she said.
Vafa is located in Hashtgerd, about a 90-minute drive west of Tehran. The shelter says hundreds of stray dogs struggle to survive in the area, and since they are not altered, they constantly reproduce. Cars often hit dogs as they cross busy highways. Not all die immediately - some linger in agonizing pain on the roadside for days until they finally perish.
The shelter takes in as many dogs as they can. They provide food, water and shelter – and spay/neuter.
“So far 60+ have been re-homed in North America and Europe, and now with help of wonderful groups in the U;S., we hope to help more dogs find their forever loving homes outside of Iran,” said Ravon.
How you can help
Vafa Shelter relies solely on donations for its operation.
To make a donation you can contact the founder of the shelter via email at:
You can also contact U.S. rep Farah Ravon at 408-431-6954
Vafa Shelter has a high demand for flea and tick treatment. You can help by purchasing the flea and tick treatments. They say the most effective ones are Frontline Plus or Advantix. Send directly to the shelter by a traveler, or contact them by email to make other arrangements.