I’m mildly suspicious. Not because I think they wouldn’t do it — Basij fanatics used to go around shooting dogs in the street and prominent clerics were calling for mass arrests as recently as five years ago — but because it comes from Radio Free Europe and at a time when tensions between the U.S. and Iran are peaking. It’s so spectacular as propaganda that it’s almost too bad to be true. Dissident Iranian blogger Kamangir wrote about it a few days before RFE got to the story, though, and even posted photos of what he claims are the “jails” where the dogs are being held; add to that the fact that the regime has been extra nutty lately in enforcing Islamic “standards” and there must be something to it. It’s strange but true that with all the illustrations of the mullahs’ cruelty to choose from, this is one of the most affecting:

In the past, dog owners have received warnings or were forced to pay fines for having a pet dog. Despite such harassment, dog ownership has increased over the years, especially among young people in Tehran.

One of them is 23-year-old Banafshe, whose dog was recently detained in Tehran for 48 hours and then released on bail. Banafshe says she was walking her young puppy, Jessica, when Iranian police snatched the dog and took her to a dog “jail.” The dog’s crime was “walking in public.”

Banafshe claims the police insulted her, but out of fear for her dog, she didn’t protest. She said she told the police that Allah says in the Koran that nothing bad has been created in this world.

“They said, ‘We want to get rid of Western culture,’” Banafshe said. “They said, ‘You live in an Islamic country, it’s not right to have dogs. Are you not Islamic? Why does your family allow you to own a dog?’ They insulted me, they even told me that they hope my dog will die. But there was nothing I could do but cry. You can’t imagine how badly I was insulted.”

The new clampdown on dogs follows a recent order by the head of Tehran’s security forces, Ahmad Reza Radan, who said it is against the law for dogs to walk in public. The order has left many people baffled.

Nadja, whose sick dog was arrested right after it had surgery, considers the clampdown on dogs ridiculous. “One day it’s dogs, the next day it’s [crime prevention], tomorrow they have to catch birds. The police themselves must be laughing at this,” Nadja said.

Keep it up, turds. Every little bit of senseless repression helps.