Bali Journal: For One Dog A Passing, For Another Hope

A dog the IFAW BAWA team attempted to help but later had to euthanize.

Today I saw the sickest dog I’ve ever seen in my life. It was in a state so horrific I was surprised, literally surprised, that it could still be alive.

We noticed the dog as we were driving down a main road in Bali. As I mentioned in my previous post, when you’re in a car with Janice of BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) one should expect many stops on the way to your final destination. She carries food in the back of her van and has the BAWA animal ambulance on speed dial. Constantly on the lookout for sick, injured, and starving dogs, we stop for any animal that looks to be in desperate need of care.

But I can easily say this dog was beyond desperate.

The Balinese dog who didn't make it that day.

It was not much more than a skeleton with skin draped across the bones. Most of its fur was gone, and its dry, thick skin was both covered in scabs and crawling with yellow mites. Janice gave the dog some food but it was too weak to move its head the few inches to reach it. She literally had to place the food below the dog’s mouth for it to eat. It quickly became clear the dog couldn’t move its back legs. As though starvation and disease weren’t enough, a local shopkeeper told us the dog had been hit by a car.

Within minutes a veterinarian was called. We stayed with the dog, watching the cars pass. Some slowing to see what we were doing, as people standing beside a dying dog are more a spectacle than the dog itself. Sick and injured dogs are along the roads all over Bali, and many locals no longer take notice.

Soon the vet arrived and it was clear there was no option that was more humane than euthanasia. “I wish you more fortune in your next life” Janice told the dog. Within minutes it had peacefully passed on.

As we headed back into our van I picked up a box that held a scrappy little white puppy we’d rescued that morning, and put it in my lap.

Kate (IFAW’s Director of the Companion Animal Program) and I had found the puppy also along the side of the road. He was skinny and nearly hairless, scabby all over and stinky as could be.

We’d found him on our way to a meeting with local government officials, after visiting a village where vaccination teams were working to protect the community against rabies. Kate suggested we name him Fred.

A scrappy little puppy the team called "Fred", who fed and napped happily after being rescued.

Frightened and unused to being handled, Fred had squealed when he was taken from the road and placed into a box. But once he was in the van, he happily sat in his box and munched away on what was likely the best meal he’d ever had.

And though the box wasn’t much bigger than his tiny body, Fred curled up in it after his meal and slept. He slept all the way to our meeting and all through it. He peacefully slept as we drove further, and then through the hour of caring for the sickest dog I’d ever seen. And when I hopped back into the van, Fred was still curled up and peacefully sleeping in the cool comfort of the van, his belly finally full.

Unwanted puppies are a huge problem in Bali. If young pups aren’t killed, they may be dumped or abandoned. And without care or food, they end up looking like the two dogs we found today. Luckily for Fred, we found him in time. I was told it takes about three weeks for a puppy like Fred to look happy and healthy and ready for adoption.

Now he’s at the BAWA clinic, starting his second chance.

As for the other dog, it seems so unfair that any animal should be born to know only suffering. But while the dying dog may not have had his second chance in this life, if there is such a thing as Karma, I believe (and hope) he will know great love and kindness in the next.

-- HL

For more information on how you can support the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit - And thank you.

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