After two days of intense meetings, animal welfare officers in Bali have had a mass culling of dogs in Giyanar Regency called off. Yesterday the Bali government granted permission for a mass cull of stray and community-owned dogs in Bali after a local man sadly passed away due to an unconfirmed case of suspected rabies. Prominent animal charities in Bali urged the government to rethink the plans, suggesting other more impactful and humane strategies.
Animal welfare organization BAWA Bali is one of the island’s most impactful animal charities. They work with local communities to neuter and vaccinate dogs, increase education about animal welfare and offer veterinary treatment to animals in need. In a statement released by the charity earlier today, they confirmed that the government has called off plans for a mass culling of all free-roaming dogs in Bedulu Village just outside of Ubud.
The statement reads, ‘We are pleased to report that after two days of meetings with the Bedulu village authorities, the planned elimination (to be held today) was called off. BAWA will work together with the Government on dog population management, vaccinations and educate the local community on how to care for their dogs, bite prevention, and what to do if they are bitten’.
One of the main issues concerning BAWA was that the mandate by the local government did not align with national policy. The ‘selective elimination’ order was due to come into effect on Wednesday 18th, October. BAWA was concerned that dogs that had been neutered and vaccinated against rabies through their extensive programs would be euthanized.
The Head of the Gianyar Regency Agriculture Service, Anak Agung Putri Ari, told reporters that an estimated 80,000 dogs are in the regency alone. Speaking in the hours before the mass elimination orders were canceled.
He explained, ‘The elimination that will be carried out will be a selective and targeted elimination, carried out on stray dogs, especially on dogs that had contact with rabies positive dogs. This will be done to prevent the spread of the virus’. Despite this statement, it is believed that the culling would be targeted at any dog that was not confined, which goes against national policy.
The national guidelines mandate states that only dogs who have not been vaccinated and are suspected to have been in contact with a rabies-positive dog should be euthanized, or vaccinated and quarantined.
Despite the change of plan today, some locals and animal charities are concerned that dog poisonings will increase across Bali out of fear of rabies. Dog poisonings are not uncommon in Bali for this reason, causing distress to dogs and local communities, many of whom have a positive relationship with stray community-owned dogs. Many Balinese families have a loving relationship with their pet dogs.
In many cases, the poison does not kill the dog, instead leaving them with internal injuries and requiring major veterinary care. It is suggested that dog owners and communities keep their dogs in residential compounds where possible for the coming days and be vigilant against poisonous ‘snacks’ left out for dogs on the street.
The farmer who sadly died of suspected rabies was reported to have been bitten by a dog three months before his death. He did not seek medical attention at the time but did clean the wound. Local reporters explained that he became violently ill on Wednesday, 12th October, though he was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and was sent home from the hospital.
Later that same day, his condition worsened, and his family observed symptoms of excessive sweating and erratic, fearful behavior. They returned him to a local clinic, where he was diagnosed with suspected rabies and passed away later that night.
There is now speculation as to whether the farmer did have rabies since, in most cases, where vaccinations are not administered within 48 hours of infection, a person typically succumbs to the virus within 2 to 8 weeks.
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