Youth are the future for Bali’s dogs

Moments after we climbed off of our scooters, the children started poking their heads out of gates and doorways lining the main street in the banjar of Abangan in Bali.

Soon we were trailing a whole troupe of excited smiling youngsters, many with their dogs in tow. This was no accident – the children of this banjar have been part of a new approach led by the Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) team. In other banjars, or communities, where the PLA team works they focus on communicating with adults and changing their attitudes towards dogs. Here, though, they decided to try focusing on kids.

“Children are the future,” explained Made Suwana, leader of the PLA team. “We hope that the kids can teach the parents, to encourage the parents to love dogs.”

While the idea that children can drive social change is not a new one – it’s been used to get adults to wear seatbelts, participate in recycling, and quit smoking – there hasn’t been much research to determine whether the approach actually works.

Recently, however, Made’s intuition has been backed up by science, not to mention his team’s own records of improved animal welfare in the banjar.

The team’s pint-sized colleagues, led by the hard-working youth coordinator Angga, take exceptional care of their dogs – who receive all the play, exercise, food, and water a four-legged friend could desire. Adults are taking notice, and accompanying their children to meetings and veterinary clinics, slowly catching on that paying attention to the community’s dogs can improve the life of the entire village. And the PLA team’s work here will mean dogs will enjoy happy, healthy lives for generations to come.

The PLA team works in 20 banjars, or neighborhoods, around Bali, and is a partnership between the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Bali Animal Welfare Association.

--RK

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