With Kind Hearts, Saving Lives

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and changing people’s attitudes towards Bali’s dogs and cats is a long-term endeavour. However, if two stories from the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) this week are any indication of change, then I believe the future is looking better.

Two separate incidents tell of not just one person but a number of people playing a role that saved a dog from starving to death when stranded on a precipice in a ravine and the lives of two children after they were bitten by a rabid dog.

None of these were random acts of kindness – that’s not my favourite phrase! – and kindness should never be random; it should be part of every person’s daily life. Don’t you agree?

The people involved in these incidents last week certainly do. Their actions ensured that man and beast were not left to die.

Two people made phone calls on a Thursday a week apart and both these calls were to BAWA.

The general manager of Como Shambala Estates, John Halpin, a long-time resident of Indonesia, called Janice Girardi, founder of BAWA, last Thursday. He explained that he had seen a dog on his walk down in a ravine near Como Shambala. After some enquiries he was told it had been there for two nights and that this would be its third.

“If this were in the US,” John said to fellow American Janice, “all you would need to do would be to ring the Fire Brigade.” But with no such services here, it was the BAWA foundation he turned to, on the advice from a friend.

The following morning the BAWA manager, Christine, advised that all the vets were already out on prearranged jobs – the sterilisation van with its contingent of vets leaves early every morning – and the other BAWA van was on Nusa Lembongan. Toby and Gwenny, two BAWA volunteers, were asked if they would go and access the situation with Adi, a BAWA vet assistant.

On arrival they made enquiries of the local villagers. One offered to take them to a place where they could get closer to the dog. Maybe it was ignorance of what was ahead of them that had Toby and Gwenny shimmying down the steep slope on their seats or just that they could not imagine leaving the dog one more day on its own. For whatever reason, when they reached the bottom, they realised the worst was yet to come.

They waded through scrum and rubbish, littered with the carcasses of rotting chickens and pigs, covered with flies, and with a stench that caused them to gag. By this stage, Gwenny related, there was no turning back.

A very lucky puppy – now named Beruntung but shortened to Bruno – was then caught with the use of a net and all three were winched back to safety. As Gwenny said, “My fear of heights was far outweighed by the thought of returning the same way through all the rotting garbage!”

Thursday, July 23: The caller who rang BAWA that evening was Ibu Peggy Kandaw. Ibu Peggy lives in Kerobokan and she believed a dog that had bitten a young boy near Warung Nikmat could possibly have rabies. She contacted the authorities with this information but they suggested she phone BAWA.

BAWA’s Dr. Wira and his assistants went immediately and caught the dog, which died on the way to Denpasar vet Dr. Son’s surgery. It was tested and the results were positive for rabies.

The race then was on then for the young boy, Adi Putra, to be vaccinated. He had initial vaccinations at Sanglah Hospital but the wound was deep and it was advised that he would need two immunoglobulin vaccinations, a rabies vaccination that is not yet available free of charge to people in Bali. Adi’s father, a Javanese labourer, also needed convincing that Adi needed these vaccinations – but how could he afford them? Each immunoglobulin would cost Rp2.2 million (US$220).

It was then discovered that Adi’s little sister, Esia, had received bite on her hand from the same dog. The advice from World Health Organization experts was that children needed the immunoglobulin vaccinations immediately.

Adi would require two and Esia one. Janice Girardi spent the next 24 hours finding people who would donate the costs. A private clinic in Bali offered to pay for two and a young Australian resident, Rachel, donated Rp200,000 of the third, with an anonymous donor paying the remaining Rp2 million.

In each case the people spoken to believed that what they did was the right thing to do. It was not a question of kindness or heroics. In fact, in each case it was not left up to just one person but a group of like-minded people.

Please join me in thanking all those involved in these acts of kindness and please consider how you too can be part of the Balinese community, which includes all living – animal and human – beings.

BAWA would also like to personally thank John Halpin for his generous donation to BAWA. It will go a long way to making sure Bruno will have the life he deserves.

For any information about BAWA, please call 0361 981490 and please donate to this worthy foundation.

Filed under: Instinct

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