Bali’s dogs need to be treated well: Activists

People who spend some time in Bali will find dogs roaming everywhere — in the villages’ narrow alleys, on the beaches and in every urban and rural corner of the island. The wide presence of stray dogs, as well as pet dogs, poses many problems — health and sanitation in particular, as demonstrated in the recent rabies outbreak. Janice Girardi, founder and director of Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), said that the ongoing vaccination programs had decreased rabies cases in both animals (especially dogs) and humans since the first rabies outbreak in Bali in 2008.

“But we must continue to vaccinate and stop eliminating previously vaccinated dogs to maintain herd immunity,” Girardi said. Every day, BAWA receives reports of indiscriminate poisonings and shootings of dogs in Bali. “Perhaps, the newest and the most serious threat is the survival of Bali’s dogs,” she said. Scientists believe that Bali’s dog species is one of the world’s oldest dog lineages, believed to be the most genetically pure. “Dog genetic history is highly significant to science,” she said.

BAWA is a non-profit charity organization that cares for the health and welfare of animals. It also runs education programs for children and the community. BAWA runs a free animal sterilization program on request. “We run a free 24/7 island-wide ambulance service to take care of injured animals that do not have owners, or whose owners cannot afford their healthcare.” She said that BAWA also continued implementing education and advocacy programs, as well as emergency and rescue programs to foster and adopt animals in need.

BAWA, she said, had done everything it could to ensure the immediate health and wellbeing of animals and to facilitate sustainable improvement in animal welfare. Recent problems arose from misunderstanding of the rabies problem over the past five years. All dogs can get rabies. Girardi said: ‘’Vaccination is the key that allows us to leave vaccinated and healthy dogs in the community to provide a ‘herd immunity’ that will solve the rabies problem.” There is still a lack of awareness on how dogs should be treated on the island.

Dogs need clean water in a bowl every day and to be fed and provided with medical treatment when required. “Many people in Bali, elder groups in particular, do not understand. Dogs are such a great asset to our families and communities. Dogs have feelings and deserve care and respect.” Girardi was encouraged to see the emergence of Sekeha Asu Bali Utama (SABU) club, which has adopted many dogs from BAWA. “It is a very exciting new idea. It is the first time there has ever been a club in Bali dedicated to dogs,” exclaimed Girardi.

SABU is a community-based organization from Banjar Waru Tengkulak Kaje in Kemenuh village in Gianyar. All the club members have a similar vision and mission: “to preserve the dog population and to handle the rabies outbreak in the right and proper way.” Surya Anaya, an advisor from SABU, said that the club wanted to save the Bali dogs and to educate local people on the importance of treating dogs properly, including providing vaccinations. “We also try to educate the whole population, especially children,” Anaya said. SABU is an exemplary grassroots organization caring for Bali’s dogs and could become a pilot program for other organizations to apply all over the island.

source : bali daily

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