On the ground Helping Dogs in Bali

vaccinating a cat for rabies

Jan Hannah reports on the rabies vaccination efforts underway on the island of Bali. IFAW has committed a significant financial contribution to this project. WSPA/BAWA and the Balinese government are responsible for the project’s implementation, including organizing and training.

When I knew we were going back out into the field with the vaccinating teams, I prepared myself for the heat so that I wouldn’t flag as early as I had when we worked in Renon Village. This time, however, we were an hour and a half drive from our destination -- Petung village -- where the team had already been out early in the morning vaccinating dogs up and down the street.

To get to Petung, our driver took us out of Sanur and through morning scooter and car traffic. We wound through working rice terraces and villages before ending up on the bottom end of the village where we parked on the side of the road and called out a big hello to the teams. It had rained hard the night before and water was coursing down the ditches by the road side. The altitude and light grey sky meant that my preparations for a repeat of the heat from the other day were unnecessary. The temperature was pleasant and the air was fresh. There were two teams catching and vaccinating dogs – one team was working on the right hand side of the road and the second team was working on the left hand side.

As you walked along the road, the dogs would come out and bark, just as they are expected to; that’s their job and they are good at it. You can’t move quietly through these Balinese villages because the dogs are there letting everyone know that someone is passing by. The houses were located down pathways that led away from the road and just like the other day, each person was asked if a dog or cat lived there and if so, could they be vaccinated.

The teams are skilled at catching the dogs but there is an obvious difference in experience level. Those who have been doing it for a long time are very quick with the nets and the dogs don’t often get away. The newer catchers are still learning and could be outsmarted by a dog who is for sure not going to be caught in that strange net thing! Sometimes a net wasn’t necessary to catch the dog and instead the owner would corner their animal in the kitchen -- a separate building where they could lure the dog while the team held the door closed. When the owner was ready, the team would move in and vaccinate the dog, or if need be, use the net to immobilize him and vaccinate.

The villagers were very receptive to the project and as we were walking along the road, a man brought a beautiful orange tabby on his scooter to the team. Another man delivered a litter of puppies in a bag for vaccinations. Even the little puppies get a red collar to signify that they have been vaccinated. Interestingly, the government had been out to vaccinate in this particular village and it was decided that about 50% of the animals had already been vaccinated during that visit. It doesn’t matter who does the vaccinating as long as it gets done! While we won’t be out with the teams again, the InAW teams will be out vaccinating dogs and cats every day for the next 5-6 months. Rabies is a real concern on the island but eradication of the disease is a possibility through island wide rabies vaccination programs just like this one.

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For more information on IFAW efforts to help animals including dogs around the world, visit www.ifaw.org

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