Community leaders in Bali have deployed a Rabies Alert Team to round up stray and community-owned dogs in Legian amid a rabies outbreak. While rabies has remained in transmission in Bali for decades, there has recently been a rise in positive cases.
This has caused concern for communities, tourists, and dog lovers around Bali. Now, community leaders in Legian have launched a task force to vaccinate and relocate dogs away from busy tourist areas like Legian Beach.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon Putu Eka Martini said that the Rabies Alert Team (Tisira) has been deployed following support from the Bali provincial government. She said, “we have held a meeting regarding Tisira. We have been given the concept, and we will follow up by compiling a team draft decree, including what is needed. Later we will coordinate with the provinces and districts, including we will make a proposal in the Musrenbang regarding the allocation of activities.”
She added that the Rabies Alert Team will be calling on the community to support the operation to help locate community-owned dogs. She said, “The community involvement is expected to speed up the team’s performance, related to tracking [if and] when a dog has come into contact with a rabid dog.” She confirmed that Legian is the first area to have a Rabies Alert Team, with more to be developed across Badung Regency.
By the end of the working day on Tuesday, six dogs had been safely collected from Legian Beach and taken to a shelter in South Kuta. Martini confirmed that the dogs would be vaccinated against rabies and well cared for pending their rehoming. According to surveys, around 80 dogs are living along Legian Beach.
However, the local community has noted that some regular beach dogs have disappeared since New Year’s, suggesting that they were scared away by the fireworks and extreme weather conditions. Local reports suggest a further 20 beach dogs have been claimed by community members since the operation was launched earlier this week.
The Rabies Alert Team has asked community dog feeders to continue working with the authorities to ensure that the rabies outbreak is controlled. They want to see the community and stray dogs protected from the disease. The authorities are urging dog owners to keep their pets tied up or behind gates to ensure that the vaccinated and unvaccinated dog populations are kept separate.
The operations come after an incident in Legian on the 28th of December, where a dog who later tested positive for rabies bit four Indonesian citizens and two tourists. According to BAWA, the Bali Animal Welfare Association, the two foreigners involved in the incident did not visit a hospital after the incident.
The authorities are clear that if any Indonesian citizen or tourist is attacked, bitten, or scratched by a dog in Bali, they must attend the nearest medical facility as soon as possible to be assessed and start preventative treatments.
Meanwhile, a mass rabies vaccination program remains ongoing for dogs in Denpasar Regency. The Head of Denpasar City Agriculture Service, Anak Agung Gde Bayu Brahmasta, said that the regency has a high population of pet, community-owned, and stray dogs. He said the regency has a mission to create an ‘immunity belt’ around the city.
He said, “we prioritize vaccination in areas bordering Badung and Gianyar. Because we are worried that there will be migration of dogs to the Denpasar City area.” He confirmed that in 2022, 27,374 dogs in Denpasar Regency were vaccinated against rabies.
There are nearly 90,000 dogs in Denpasar Regency alone, Brahmasta told reporters work continues to roll out vaccinations and sterilizations of dogs. “This year, we are still waiting for the allocation from the State Budget because, at this time, it has not come down.”
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