It was a black day for Bali when the government handed control of the island’s rabies outbreak to a group of foreigners running an animal shelter as a hobby. These people, in Ubud and backed by animal organisations overseas, have put the lives of people in Bali on the line over their bleeding-heart sentiment that dogs have rights, too.
This hazardous relationship between the Bali government and the people who run the Bali Animal Welfare Association was cemented last September, when the foreigners and their local staff started inoculating stray dogs against rabies, which in two years has claimed the lives of 118 Balinese. It is an experiment that was doomed to failure from the outset.
The animal lobby cannot bear to see stray dogs exterminated; and we agree. But there are so many feral dogs around Bali – an overwhelming number, as glances anywhere left and right will easily tell you – that rationale dictates it is not possible to solve the rabies crisis without a stern intervention that sharply reduces the more than half a million on the streets. Everyone loves dogs, but not when they are killing people.
The proper course to eradicating this horrific disease from our shores is a three-pronged approach that will see swift results: 1 Drastically cut back the numbers of strays; 2 Vaccinate at least 70 percent of the remainder, a figure experience elsewhere indicates will prevent the virus from effectively transmitting; and 3 Educate people at community level and at schools about responsible dog ownership – meaning, do not let your animal wander freely outside the home. In such a laidback place as Bali, enforcement from the law, as anywhere, must also be brought to effect: Strays must be rounded up and owners possibly fined for improper care.
We need to see a quick end to the treacherous lines being spun by the dog lobby and start to bring about a workable resolution to this most pressing of problems. Four more people have died from rabies in this early New Year; how many more before common sense prevails?Filed under: Editorial