PAWS helps find new homes for dogs from Iran

LYNNWOOD — Baylee Parfitt knelt down on the driveway outside PAWS animal shelter, gently stroking the soft black ears of the Anatolian shepherd mix standing next to her.

“You’re a good girl,” Parfitt told the newest member of her family.

The 2-year-old dog, named Ghandoon, arrived at PAWS last week after flying to Seattle from Tehran, the capital city of Iran. Humane Society International contacted the animal shelter, Progressive Animal Welfare Society, last month to ask it to find new homes for Ghandoon and another female dog, said Mark Coleman, PAWS spokesman.

According to the Washington Post, Iran’s wealthy have increasingly kept dogs as pets as Western influence has crept into the country. In response, the theocratic Iranian government is proposing a complete ban on all dogs in cities and suburbs. Dogs are unclean in the eyes of the country’s Shiite rulers.

So animal shelters in Iran started working with Humane Society International to find homes for Iran’s dogs in other countries.

“Dogs are starting to disappear,” Coleman said. “The law hasn’t been enacted but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. If they come to us and say, ‘We’re really concerned about this,’ we don’t really need to do the homework. We’ll just take the dogs.”

A border collie mix named Shabnam arrived at PAWS first and was adopted by a shelter volunteer who took her home on Friday, Coleman said. Both dogs were frightened and visibly shaken at first, but Ghandoon adapted more quickly than expected to her new environment.

“It took Shabnam a week before she was ready to see anyone,” Coleman said. “We thought it was going to take (Ghandoon) a week to unwind but it took her just a couple days.”

Parfitt, 18, and her boyfriend, John Delisle, 21, of Lynnwood, adopted Ghandoon on Monday. They looked a couple of months for a dog and originally visited PAWS to meet Shabnam, Parfitt said. The dog had been adopted so they decided upon Ghandoon instead.

“Ghandoon was left by herself and we fell in love with her,” Parfitt said.

The couple spent time with the dog outside of her kennel on Monday for the second time. She wore a purple collar. Delisle used a matching purple leash to walk her across the pavement. Ghandoon walked slowly and timidly pawed a patch of grass.

That behavior makes sense, Coleman said. The dogs haven’t been on grass or concrete, and none of the smells are the same as they were in Tehran.

“You take them out of the desert and drop them in the Northwest and it’s sensory overload,” Coleman said.

PAWS expects another three or four dogs from Iran to arrive at the shelter in about a month, he added.

Dog beds, bowls, food, and some treats were all waiting for Ghandoon at her new home, Parfitt said. The dog will get to pick out her own toy when she’s ready.

“She’s a very unique girl,” Parfitt said. “I love that she’s affectionate and not super hyper … I hope she’ll soon be able to become more playful, but I just like that she wants love and affection and that’s something I’m very capable of giving to her.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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