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Dog-Hating Iranian Government Decides To Help Strays

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It's peculiar that a country that all but bans dog ownership would spend money to help strays, but that's exactly what's happening in Iran.

Stray dogs in Iran's capital of Tehran will now be tracked with GPS collars. Dogs who are captured and vaccinated are also being outfitted with the trackers in order to protect the dogs, the Agence France-Presse reports. The collars will let workers relocate strays for follow-up treatments, as well as let a sometimes fearful public know where the dogs are. The strays often live in groups and enter the city from Tehran's northern mountainous region, according to the AFP.

The program to vaccinate dogs, coupled with GPS, is meant to "reassure people that these dogs will not attack them," local animal rescuer Ali Jalali was quoted as saying.

For dogs in Tehran, this comes as welcome news. It's out of cultural bounds, by and large, for Iranians to own dogs. Publicly walking a dog or traveling in a car with a dog is illegal. In November, some of Iran's leaders proposed punishing dog ownership with lashing.

Clerical leaders have argued that dogs are "unclean" and against Islamic culture, but that hasn't always been the case. As Omar Sacirbey wrote for The Huffington Post in 2012, "Islamic scripture and tradition does not provide a definitive guide to all matters canine." In fact, he notes, a verse of the Quran describes a scene of dogs guarding a group of people resting in a cave.