Animal Law in Iran
Sentience of animals
In Iran, animals are not recognized as sentient beings. The Bill on the protection of animals was proposed in 2017, which prohibits physical violence against animals and abandoning them. The Bill was presented to the Parliament of Iran in September 2019 and at the time of writing, the Bill has not been enacted into law.
Iran does not have the legislation on the welfare of companion animals. In 2019, Tehran banned dog-walking after the Government discussed the legislation to start criminalizing dog ownership. As for the stray animals, in 2014 Tabriz banned killing stray dogs and cats and required them to be taken to private animal shelters.
One of the main industries is the poultry industry. Its production has increased from 195 000 tons in 1978 to 2.1 million tons in 2012. The protection of farmed animals is not regulated in the country. De-beaking, de-toeing, tail-docking, tooth pulling, castration, and dehorning of livestock without anesthetic are allowed, as well as gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages. In 2009, Iran passed the Law on Comprehensive System of Animal Husbandry, which is aimed at the regulation of issues related to livestock, including their productivity. It also provides that slaughtering any endangered species of livestock is allowed only with specific permits and under the supervision of an animal breeding expert and a veterinarian. The Law does not, however, regulate the forms of confinement in which animals are kept and maintained. The Law does not present the provisions on humane slaughter and the instrument in itself is more related to sanitary issues related to meat production rather than animal welfare provisions.
Animals used in entertainment
In 2016, the Department of Environment declared that it would not issue any permits allowing the use of animals in circuses and banned using wild animals in circuses in the entire country. Recently in 2019, Iran banned dolphinariums in the country.
In 2004, approximately 50 medical universities were established in the country to promote animal welfare and ethics taking into consideration the religious principles and the improvement of laboratory animals. In 2019, the Deputy of Education at the Ministry of Education issued an order to stop all vivisection activities in all primary and secondary schools, as well as scientific contests within the country.
The Constitution of Iran has a statement regarding the protection of the environment and the prevention of pollution and degradation. Article 50 of the Constitution provides that “all legal and real persons have a duty to protect the environment and prohibits all activities, economic or otherwise, that may result in irreparable damage to the environment.”
In 1967, the Law on Hunting and Fishing was passed that requires a license to hunt or fish. Later on, in 1975, the Environmental Protection Law was enacted providing that the Department of Environment and the High Council for Environmental Protection shall establish a system of supervision and monitoring wildlife and marine resources, establish limitations for hunting in certain protected areas. In 2015, Iran reported to the Convention on Biological Diversity that the government successfully conserved cheetahs and completed its project on activities with regard to other endangered and threatened species. In a case of any violation of the Game and Fish Laws, the punishments include fines and arrest depending on the animal hunted or the conduct itself. Moreover, the Ministry of War can revoke any issued licenses on possessing arms.
Animal rights movement
Despite various factors, animal activism exists in the country. For instance, the Iranian Anti-Vivisection Association (IAVA) is the first country’s anti-vivisection group, which promotes the use of alternatives to animal testing.
In 2014, Animal Rights Watch and Animal Defenders International started the “No to Circus!” campaign that resulted in banning of the use of wildlife in circuses.