It Takes a Sea Change to See Change

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Prudence was spoilt. She was the “sit in the front seat of the car, eat whatever ‘mum’ was eating and at the table, go wherever mum was going” type of spoilt – and on visits to ‘Nana’ Judy’s, she would perch unperturbed on the most comfortable Moran recliner.

Mary spoilt Prudence. We all knew it and no one was ever in any doubt that she was the most loved dog. Prudence was Mary’s pride and joy.

Then one day Prudence got sick and within one short hour she went from her usual happy self to a very sick dog vomiting blood. Mary rushed her to Angus, our family vet, and Angus did the most humane thing he could possibly do: he put Prudence to sleep, forever.

Prudence had “taken a bait” – that was what we used to say back then – and that bait was so horrible that there was no turning back after Prudence had eaten it. 1987 – it wasn’t that long ago really – 22 years ago.

I remember this because Mary Henzell, my sister-in-law, was brokenhearted but she was angry. Mary was (still is) a well-respected person in the community and her voice was added to the many other voices and now there are laws that see those people who would do such heinous deeds locked up in jail.

That is Australia, and not Bali, but aren’t animals still animals and humans still humans and rivers still rivers wherever you are in the world? Would you not want the rivers to be kept free of pollution and all families free of fear and dogs, owned or street dogs, free from harm?

If stray dogs are to be rounded up and euthanized due to the rabies scare, should it not be part of the program to advise the dog owners who have yet to have their homes fenced to be given the chance to put their animals inside or restricted in some form?

And should not the dogs suspected of being strays and therefore to be culled due to the rabies scare be euthanized humanely and not with strychnine?

The Sunday before last I spent the day at the BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – clinic with Dr. Yogi and two vet assistants, just the four of us and approximately 60 puppies. By mid-morning a Dutch couple had bought in another three puppies that had been “dumped” over their fence. They kindly donated the cage that they had bought the puppies in. There was only one cage remaining and that was for the three puppies that had been dumped in the drain outside BAWA that morning that we were yet to catch. Puppies arriving from left, right and centre. I wonder why?

That Sunday at BAWA was not my most memorable in the happy sense but one that when I finally left, after stuffing up the washing of the surgery drapes and in soaking-wet shoes from continually having to wash out the front pen, cleaning litter trays, all I wanted to do was sleep for a week. What a wuss! But the one saving grace was that I had been able to cuddle and comfort some of the 60-plus puppies.

Last Sunday was different. There was Lily, my friend Sarah’s 11-year-old daughter (Sarah usually comes but hadn’t been well), who loves nothing better than spending her Sundays with the puppies and kittens, and two new volunteers, Jo, a friend of Sarah’s, and Jen from America, and, one other, Made Mertiasa, an Ubud transport driver who will lend a hand whenever he doesn’t have job commitments. This gives Dr. Yogi and his vet assistants some relief from the relentless hours of caring for the close to 70 puppies and a mother cat and her three kittens. It was such a treat to have other volunteers.

Outside of the clinic the BAWA sterilization team performs up to 40 dog sterilizations a day and their education team goes to schools teaching Balinese and other children about animal welfare.

BAWA also has a 24-hour Animal Ambulance service which provides emergency care for street dogs and cats. I have made the call on a number of occasions when a dog or cat has needed care and the BAWA vet arrived and the animal was treated or euthanized humanely. I am still not used to watching animals being euthanized and end up sobbing unashamedly.

The streets of Australia may now be relatively free of stray dogs but this did not happen overnight. Dogs in Australia must be registered, and sterilized dogs cost less to register. There are also laws against the importation of certain breeds. It took time and a lot of community education about the importance of sterilizing dogs and cats. The government publicized the importance of animal care and gave very clear messages about animal laws. It also took a lot of money, not only from the government but from many generous Australians who wanted to see a change, but there are many animal refuges that rely solely on donations and they continue to save many dogs from death row at the council pounds.

It is hoped that Bali will one day have streets free of stray dogs but this will never happen unless the government and those enjoying the pleasures of living in Bali support the programs that organizations like BAWA provide.

Please consider how you can make a difference. Money donations are needed but if you are able to volunteer or provide old towels, food, cleaning items, newspapers even – everything helps.

Join me in celebrating Bali’s own dogs and cats and please consider adopting a puppy or/and a kitten today. There are so many in need of your care at the BAWA clinic. For more:

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