Bali’s Disgrace

This week, with a degree of self-serving fanfare, the authorities launched a motto to convince us, and perhaps themselves, that our island will soon be rid of the rabies virus that has cast a deep pall over Bali.

The slogan comes more than two years after the outbreak that has killed around 130 Balinese and shattered families’ lives right around the island. It has been devised at a time when few among the public believe we are on the right track in terms of eliminating the deadly disease. That’s because many people want the viral container, the vast throng of stray dogs, eliminated immediately – and also for threatening reasons other than rabies – instead of a 70-percent vaccination of strays that is currently advertised as the “only” solution.

That method is doomed.

Instead of seeing an end to rabies in Bali in the coming months, as promised under the Bali Rabies-Free 2012 banner unveiled by provincial Animal Husbandry Department chief I Putu Sumantra, a man with a tenuous grip on facts and figures, according to oscillating rabies data emerging from his office, rabies will very likely still be largely prevalent in Bali by the end of this year. Indeed, vowing to have the threat wiped out in a mere eight months when the problem is so entrenched is questionable in itself.  

Hardly a week goes by now that the virus does not claim another human life. Last week a teacher was killed by the contagion; this week a little girl succumbed. It is a human catastrophe with little parallel in the recent history of our island, aside from the terrorists’ double bombings. Yet as we have continually argued, an end to this crisis can be swiftly brought about: by removing every stray dog on the streets. It is as simple as that.

There is rising public anger at the growing human death toll and that efforts – and a great deal of public and private money – are being made, it is perceived, only towards the wellbeing of stray dogs whose owners will take no responsibility and keep within the confines of their homes. That behaviour has to end. 

The rabies-elimination programme as it exists is a sham; it will not eradicate the virus because the numbers of stray dogs are too severe – there are well over half a million of them, according to government estimates, and because they are strays, they breed at will, further exacerbating the crisis. Until such time that the authorities awaken to this – and stop capitulating to foreign animal-welfare activists – and engage in an all-out cull, people will continue to die. That would represent an extraordinary dishonour for all of Bali.

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5 Responses to “Bali’s Disgrace”

  1. John Says:

    I agree. The attempt in creating an illusion of having the situation under control is going to fall flat on it’s face. Take a walk for an hour, wherever you live in Bali, and try to convince yourself that the Rabies problem is under control! As long as Bali is full of street dogs—Rabies will be as well!

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  3. Didi Says:

    That’s outrageous! And that’s why I cannot bring my dog in Bali from overseas. How stupid!

  4. Sara Says:

    I disagree with the above editorial piece.

    I understand ‘freedom of the press’ and commend anyone who stands up for what they believe however the writer comes across badly. imo.

    It has been proven overseas that vaccinating a ‘good percentage’ (above it is stated 70%) of street dogs will prevent the spread of rabies. That is a fact.

    And – as rabies was first found on Nusa Dua – it could have easily been contained and eradicated: vaccinate street dogs starting from that very narrow strip of reclaimed land (mangrove/runway) that joins Nusa Dua with mainland Bali, going southwards … rabies would never have spread onto the mainland because no street dog would allow another (potentially unvaccinated) dog, into its territory.

    If bitten while defending its territory, a vaccinated dog would be fine.

    However, the Balinese authorities sat around … not listening, not acting on the information presented to them.

    And therefore rabies is now island-wide.

    Rabies affects the brain. For it to be in a dog’s saliva and therefore transmissible in a bite, the dog is close to death.

    I could keep writing (and no doubt edit into a more coherent ‘comment’) but I’ll simply finish there.

  5. Peter Says:

    As much as I love dogs, enough is enough, 130 Balinese have lost their lives to rabies. Surely this is enough reason for strong action to be taken. A cull of ALL stray dogs would be a good place to start along with the compulsory vaccination of all other dogs.
    Using common sense in this situation is essential, dispense with the animal welfare types from overseas and invite them to seek causes to fight elsewhere.
    Bali has had enough problems in recent times and it doesn’t need an ongoing one like rabies to impact on it.
    Time for the government to stand up and show some steel.

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