Spotlight Indonesia: Just another day rescuing animals in Bali

The unfortunate Balinese kitten who didn't make it.Janice Girardi, the founder and Director of the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) never arrives at the office before 10am.

At a time when we might be pouring our cereal, sipping our coffee, lazily flipping through the pages of a gaudy magazine or catching a few extra minutes of sleep, Janice is also going through her normal morning routine - driving through the streets of Bali, feeding and rescuing dogs and cats.

With containers of homemade mixed meals of rice, chicken, egg, squash and other vegetables (the standard fare for dogs that come under BAWA’s care) she drives through communities, taking one of many routes that are regularly monitored in the mornings.

Dogs flock to her car for what might be their one good meal of the day and Janice looks for those in need of additional medical attention.  She stops by the market and local garbage dump in search of abandoned puppies and the occasional kitten. She takes time to speak with locals about caring for their animals, intervening when she sees an animal in need of immediate care. 

She notices the animals.  She stops for them.  She helps.

Last Tuesday was just like any other morning for Janice as she arrived at BAWA with four, eight-week old puppies and a tiny grey tabby so young its eyes were yet to open. They all came from the local dump - a common spot to abandon unwanted animals - which Janice passes often as “dumped” puppies don’t do well on the streets of Bali.

They quickly fall victim to a variety of parasites, disease and starvation. Countless numbers of them arrive at the BAWA clinic every month, many of which have lost almost all their hair and are covered in grey, scabby skin.

Luckily the puppies Janice picked up on Tuesday didn’t appear to have been on their own for long. Despite bloated bellies and hairless patches from ringworm, they seemed to be in fair shape.  The tiny kitten, however, was not so lucky.

When Janice arrived at the BAWA office she immediately asked visiting International Fund for Animal Welfare veterinarian Dr. Kati Loeffler to come down to the car and assess the kitten.

Though the little tabby’s face and backside looked normal, turning her gently over revealed several large open wounds, each crawling with maggots.  “She needs to go to the BAWA clinic immediately” Dr. Loeffler recommended, “and she needs fluids”. But even with these instructions and being rushed to the clinic, the prognosis wasn’t good.

Soon after arriving, the little kitten passed away.

Spending your mornings in such a manner would be trying for anyone, but what’s amazing is that when Janice walks into the office following her “rounds,” you’d never know what she’s been up to. 

She’s ready to get down to business and doesn’t look at all like she’s spent the morning rummaging for abandoned puppies and kittens at the local dump, literally climbing through garbage to catch them. And you’d never guess that she was just ladling out rice to dogs on the street or rescuing another that had been “punished” with scalding hot oil.

You wouldn’t know Janice had been on the phone trying to find a safe place for 19 dogs whose owner had passed away; working on the release of an adolescent monkey who was being kept caged in a field without food, water or shade; teaching a local woman about properly feeding her dog; or convincing a local family not to hack to death a harmless green snake that had wandered into their home.

You’d never know unless you guessed or unless you asked, because Janice doesn’t go on and on about her morning when she gets into the office.

For Janice, it’s just another day...

--HL

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