TEHRAN - Some dogs wandering the streets of Iran’s capital may be strays but authorities plan to ensure they are never truly lost by fitting them out with GPS, media reported Friday.

According to Tehran municipality, which works with a number of animal protection agencies, the project to vaccinate and track strays in the city aims to protect them from the public. The campaign began last week in the northern district of Darakeh and will cover some 3,000 animals, media said.

‘After being vaccinated, the dogs will be trackable thanks to a collar fitted with GPS so they can be treated regularly,’ city official Reza Ghadimi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Dog ownership in Iran is frowned upon as a Western import, and the animals are considered impure in Islamic teaching if they live inside. Walking a dog in public or having one in a car is forbidden, and conservative lawmakers in November submitted a bill that proposed punishing dog owners with 74 lashes or heavy fines.

Many strays live in the mountains north of the capital, where Tehranis like to meet or go for walks. The animals move in packs and often descend into central Tehran in search of food, raising fears of attacks. ‘This campaign aims to help the animals and create a culture of animal protection’ in Iranian society, Ghadimi said. Tehran municipality ‘will use other methods other than killing dogs to prevent them from entering the city and to control their population,’ he added.

Local animal charity worker Ali Jalali said the vaccination and GPS programme would ‘reassure people that these dogs will not attack them’.