Iran’s Second Animal Shelter

Iran’s Second Animal Shelter
by Debra White

Iran opened their hearts to homeless animals in 2003. VAFA which means loyalty became Iran’s first and only animal shelter in a country of at least 71 million people. The 32,000 sq. foot facility is located about 50 miles outside of Tehran. VAFA houses mostly dogs because they are more likely to face mistreatment from fearful or uniformed people. Homeless dogs meanwhile just try to scratch out a living.

Through months of hard work, diligence, and preparation Iranian animal lovers recently unveiled VAFA #2, in a village near the tomb of Ferdosi, the popular Iranian poet.

Generous donations made the second shelter possible so that a handful of homeless dogs are fed daily, medicated, cleaned up, and protected from harm.

The new fenced in shelter separates puppies from adult dogs. All the dens are solidly built. Dogs live comfortably in carpeted areas with space to go outdoors for fresh air and elimination.

VAFA manager Lida Esna-Ashari, a retired nurse, says, “Kind ladies founded this peaceful space for the helpless animals and they can use any help they can get. Please spread the word especially to people who are near Mashhad.”

Dogs are God’s creatures, says Niloofar Asgharian, an Iranian student in the US, who in 2007 raised money for VAFA. “They feel the pain and misery that man inflicts on them.”


Iranians who made the second shelter possible include but are not limited to: Mr. and Mrs. Erfani, Ms. Foroogh Emami, Ms. Khandan Del, Mrs. Mahdavi, and Ms. Lida Esna-Ashari. Through their generosity and kindness a few more homeless dogs experience kindness and compassion.


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thank you for the effort and sense of purpose

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

animals give humans unconditional love.

Seeing Iranians be unconditionally loving is a source of true accomplishment.


Wonderful people

by Gavazn on

I think animals are not valued in Iran, I just see strays all the time and I am told they poison them as well to keep the population down. Poisoning is such a horrible death. We need to encourage and support people like this. It must be an uphill struggle for them to change attitudes to animals.   


hat off to those ladies

by capt_ayhab on

It is of every day news that we hear yet another humaniterian story about our beautiful women.

They protect BASEEJI's from angry but peaceful demonstrators, they tend the victims of same baseeji's and then you hear stroy like this. 

There is love in the world after all, and our beautiful women are humbling the world with their bravery, beauty and love.

My hat of to you Banovane Iran Zamin


P/S I visited Vafa #1 last year when I was in Iran.

The Phantom Of The Opera


by The Phantom Of The Opera on


The Pahlavis, all mullahs, and all public figures associated with the Green Movement  must disclose the source and the amount of their wealth/income.


Iran Should Start with Human-Shelter Before Animal-Shelter

by HHH on

In a country where the government is in a war with it's own people treating them as animals, beating and killing them in the streets or raping and torturing them in prisons how can one expect animals to be treated humane?

We pride ourselves to be the cradle of civilization having had 7000 years of history but looks like the civilized Iranians have either moved away or became oppressed and overcome by the uncivilized majority.

It feels like we left our baby in the cradle and moved to a new house!

All I can say is: We have a long, long way to go.

For now let's just pray for doggies and kitties and save as many as we can.


Thrilled! and Praying for Vafa #3,4,5, .....

by kfravon on

Congratulations to the angels who opened Vafa #2!

The beautiful people who are operating and volunteering at these shelters are the most selfless group of people I've ever met!

I didn't have time to go visit Vafa #2 on my recent trip to Iran- but it's on top of my list for our next trip.

For those of you who just learned about Vafa Shelters, I heard about them last year, and visited the shelter then:


Dear Debra, thank you for this!


I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

"Kind ladies founded this" Those amazing Iranian women

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

Thank you very much for sharing this. It means so much to read this. I'm so happy to hear about it. People who share their lives with animals live more fulfilling lives. They are helpful with depression and rehabilitation. There is also a major connection between your chemical reaction to animals and the soothing therapy we need when stressed. 


Fantastic blog

by sag koochooloo on

I wish there were more kind people around like these people. Animals are a joy and give so much unconditional love. And it has been show that they contribute to the health of owners, and children that grow up owning pets and looking after them learn to take on responsibility. I would much rather be around animals than humans to be honest. We should all adopt an animal from a Pet shelter.

How Owning a Dog or Cat Can Reduce Stress


Some benefits:

Increase longevity after heart attacks, dogs have been shown to reduce blood pressure. Parkinson's helper dogs have been trained to identify when a person with Parkinson's is 'freezing.' If the dog touches the person's foot, it breaks the freeze and the person can continue walking. It may sound stranger than fiction, but a dog in Florida, named George, has been reported to be able to detect a particular smell given off by certain skin tumors called malignant  melanomas. There are also animals who alert their owners to episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which allows the owner to correct the level before serious symptoms develop.