An Iranian woman walks her dogs in Tehran's wealthy Elahiyeh district in 2013.
CNN  — 

Dog-walking has reportedly been banned from public places in Iran’s capital.

“Certain people who bring their dogs to public places cause panic and anxiety among the public,” Tehran’s chief of police Hossein Rahimi told state news agency Young Journalists Club, or YJC. He added that local police have obtained permission from the judiciary to confront dog owners walking their pets in public.

“People who walk their dogs in public places shall be dealt with severely,” he told YJC.

Dogs will also be banned from cars, Rahimi said, underlining that “police will seriously confront dog owners who let their dogs ride in their cars.”

The announcement follows a longstanding effort by clerics and officials to discourage dog ownership in the Islamic country.

A driver in Tehran dances with his dog at a 2009 political rally. Despite religious stigma around dogs, Iran's middle class have embraced them as pets for years.

In 2010, a senior Iranian cleric issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, that dogs were “unclean” and not to be kept as pets, Reuters reported. “Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West,” Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi was quoted as saying in Iranian newspaper Javan Daily at the time. “There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children.”

But still, especially among Tehran’s middle class, dog lovers persist.

CNN’s Alla Eshchenko contributed to this report from Atlanta.