The term ‘Bali dog’ has become a slur, used to describe the mangy, scrawny and starving dogs that all too often become a target for tourists and locals who fear the rabid bite of these desperate looking dogs. But these poor dogs are a victim of bad press and mismanagement. In fact, the Bali Kintamani dog is a proud heritage breed here and doing a spectacular job as guard dogs for families and their properties for centuries. It is believed that the Bali dog is the oldest dog in the animal kingdom. As the population and tourist influx into Bali has grown, their territory and natural ways of life have been lost, populations badly managed, and the dogs have suffered. They can’t ask us for help, but they need it. Most of these dogs are suffering from poor nutrition and a lack of basic care. Widespread rabies vaccinations, sterilisation and providing education as to how to look after them is what is needed to eliminate rabies and control population growth to ensure a happier, healthier future for this beautiful native species. Luckily, a group of people have come together to make this a reality.
Program Dharma is a groundbreaking collaboration between Udayana University, Bali Animal Welfare Association, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Center for Public Health Innovation, to ensure the health and safety of the native dog population of Sanur. The first and only scheme of its kind, Program Dharma has introduced the “one health” concept to provide the tools and education needed to empower the people of Sanur to eliminate rabies and keep the dogs of Sanur well looked after. The Program Dharma motto is “anjing terawat Bali sehat” which translates to ‘healthy animal safe community,’ and describes their goal to create safe villages through the effective control of rabies, and maintenance of a healthy dog population. Program Dharma pioneered the “one health” concept in 2016 with the support of leaders and policy makers in Sanur Kaja, Sanur Kauh and Kelurahan Sanur. Since that time they have implemented widespread rabies vaccinations, provided education about how to properly care for dogs, how to administer first aid in the event of dog bites, and led the way in effective rabies control with the hope that this can be adopted throughout Bali.
The success of Program Dharma relies on the high level of support provided to the village, who are given funding, and help at every step to implement and promote the program. The impact of PD in a village is profound - rabies can be controlled and eliminated, sterilization ensures a manageable dog population size, and education provides people with the skills to better care for dogs, meaning their overall health and welfare improves. Moreover Sanur Kaja has successfully implemented the first regulation to legally ensure animal welfare in Indonesia. This is a phenomenal achievement by Sanur Kaja to put an end to the horror of dog exploitation through regulation Perdes No 3/2018. This village regulation not only promotes animal welfare, but it expressly prohibits all forms of cruelty against dogs, including torture, poisoning, theft, and trafficking to the dog meat market.
The activities of Program Dharma in villages are:
1. Mapping and Revisit
The purpose of mapping and revisiting is to collect accurate data about the dog population in an area through direct observation or interviewing dog owners in Sanur and Jagapati. Data is collected by going door-to-door, visiting every house, and then revisiting over several subsequent occasions to update and verify the data. The results of PD Sanur dog population survey are as follows: Sanur Kaja: 1675 dogs; Kelurahan Sanur: 2478 dogs; and Sanur Kauh: 3187 dogs.
Transect involves collecting data about the location and span of roaming dogs, the times that they are roaming, and the number of dogs roaming. Using an android application that connects to a GPS system, allows an accurate record of dog roaming activity to be collated.
3. Health Day
Health day provides free sterilization, with a priority on Bali dogs. The purpose of health day is to control the dog population, which has a positive impact on dog health, human health and environmental health. PD health days are supported by BAWA and Dinas Pertanian Kota Denpasar. BAWA gives free sterilizations, worm and tick medicine, and free consultations about animal welfare. Dinas Pertanian provides free rabies vaccinations. Program Dharma has organised and run health days on 106 occasions to date, in various banjars in Sanur.
4. Hotline services
PD hotline provides 24/7 telephone assistance to people who need help with animal welfare issues, or reporting animal cruelty. In 2018, PD helped 196 people on issues ranging from dog bite care, dog care questions, and a range of issues relating to animal welfare and human health.
5. School Education
PD provides education to all students attending junior high school in Sanur, about the positive impact of the program, the importance of rabies vaccinations, sterilisation and about providing good dog care. Courses are held in SMPN 9 Denpasar and SMP Wisata Sanur.
PD has been participating in various events in Sanur, such as the Pesona Budaya Mertasari festival, the Sanur Village festival, and many events associated with the Banjar anniversary. PD uses these events to promote their project and provide education about animal welfare and the rabies diseases.
With the recent announcement that Bali's Kintamani dog has become the first Indonesian breed to get international recognition by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), it's even more important that the work done by Program Dharma is supported with the goal that other communities will eventually take up their good work. Our ‘Prince Charming’, shown above, is the perfect example of the positive impact that interventions by Program Dharma can provide. After several treatments by PD, and a better feeding routine, within two months he had transformed into a proud, friendly and handsome prince.
I'm incredibly proud to live in Sanur - this program sets our village apart and creates the standard for other Balinese villages to adopt for animal welfare.
I have seen first-hand what it means to rescue and rehome a dog from terrible conditions, and I know all too well that the vaccination and sterilisation program initiated by Dharma can have a massive influence on the dog population. A vaccinated and sterilised dog is happier, healthier and far easier to have adopted, therefore reducing numbers of unhealthy or unwanted dogs on the streets.