An emergency is gripping Bali, killing scores of people, but the only response to the rabies crisis is to care for the massive amount of stray dogs on the streets and roads, the animals that are the main breeding ground for the fatal virus. People seem to be an afterthought.
Despondent at the lack of adequate reaction to the emergency, some parts of Bali have started their own cull of stray dogs.
Late last week we heard from families along the north coast who said they were living in fear over the large number of strays in their area, after a teacher in Seririt died of rabies. Villagers implored the government to remove the threat to their lives and take every last stray dog off the street.
That should have been done long ago, not just in Seririt but all over the island. But the villagers’ calls are going unheard.
Bali is an island of intense beauty and courteous people, two admirable qualities that enrapture people living and holidaying here. This idyllic setting is being destroyed by the marauding hoards of dogs whose population is exponentially exploding. As we have warned before, we have in our midst our very own bombs-in-the-making that may be an equal to those of the terrorists’.
People are being bitten by rabid strays, and are dying. Motorists are being killed, when dogs wander into the streets. Tourists are being chased about and are fearful of the snarling packs. Residents cannot even sleep for the nightly racket generated by this island-wide, extraordinary menace.
The government’s rabies-elimination scheme, in its current incarnation a dog-vaccination programme, will continue, but its success will be limited by the sheer size of the stray-dog population. There is a much wider problem, one with many elements. And it can only be solved by removing every stray dog in Bali.