Bali Animal Welfare Association.
I bumped into B.A.W.A. at a local restaurant while I was having lunch. Some small fencing was being erected and fake grass was being rolled out when I asked the waitress what was about to happen.
She informed me that a local adoption agency was holding an event.
Soon enough, the dogs were brought in. The restaurant’s outside area was soon filled with the wagging tails and barking of about 14 dogs. I have focused on the human side of Bali, but this also encompasses the human side of Bali.
The animal welfare on the island.
While there are countless cases of humans helping humans in Bali, let’s not forget the animals that live on the island. Ask anyone that visits Bali and they will surely comment on the many dogs and cats here.
The Bali dog is not the most elusive animal on the island. The Bali dog is a Bali dog. Sitting, sleeping, chilling nearly anywhere he or she wants. Reminds me of the cows in India, except here at least we can get the dogs to move.
The Bali dog is much like a regular dog with extreme street smarts and a sixth sense of the traffic around them. They will gladly lay down in the middle of a street or chase each other on the beach. There is something about the Bali dog that one can only know by observing them. Calm, chill, lazy and smart, are what would describe these dogs the best. The funniest thing I have seen was a Doberman with the attitude of a Bali dog. It is something that needs to be seen and experienced.
Yet there is a problem.
The first problem is, that neutering or sterilizing dogs and cats costs money. The second is that frolicking among the dogs is as popular as the single men and women trying to get laid in Canggu and Seminyak.
The third is that many foreigners and locals for that matter will take on these pets and then dispose of them when they leave the island.
COVID of course made matters so much worse because people were forced to leave, evacuate, and move. This left many dogs and cats to fend for themselves; thus, there were even more and more strays.
This is where B.A.W.A comes in.
The Bali Animal Welfare Association was founded in 2005 by Janice Girardi. This association has achieved some amazing results in the past few years.
After years of informally rescuing animals on her own, American expat and jeweler Janice Girardi opens the first veterinary clinic in the Ubud area.
Bali Animal Welfare Association is founded and officially registered as a non-profit, funded by the income from Janice’s Bali-based jewelry company, Janice Girardi Designs. The organization employs a staff of over 100 people.
The rabies outbreak grips Bali and dogs are culled in the hundreds of thousands. BAWA steps in to spearhead a pilot mass vaccination program to stop the brutal killings.
BAWA partners with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) on a village-based health and education program to engage communities at the village level.
Program Dharma, a one-health initiative promoting healthy and safe communities, is officially launched in Sanur, in cooperation with IFAW and Udayana University.
Indonesia’s first ever village regulation (Perdes) is signed in Sanur Kaja, officially banning dog cruelty including poisoning, dumping of puppies, and the dog meat trade.
The COVID-19 pandemic hits Bali, crumbling the island’s tourism-fed economy and causing unprecedented hardships for people and animals alike. In response to the rising number of animals falling into neglect, BAWA kicks into high. Supporting and monitoring the health and well-being of thousands of stray and owned animals, as our rescue centers continue to fill up.
An earthquake in the Karangasem region of Bali destroys hundreds of homes and displaces families and animals. BAWA’s Disaster Relief team launches aid efforts for humans and animals alike. Making daily deliveries of dog food, water, basic food supplies, and building materials to help the local community to get back on their feet.
B.A.W.A is involved in rabies control, sterilization, education, disaster preparedness, and advocacy. Their efforts are all-encompassing and their teams of volunteers work tirelessly with up to 400 rescue animals at a time. Their initiative on Program Dharma is one giant leap in the right direction.
Program Dharma is an innovative, community-based One Health initiative that aims to build healthy communities, based on the principle that protecting your dogs will also protect your family and your neighbors.
Healthy Animals, Safe Communities.
Program Dharma, a collaboration between BAWA, Udayana University, and the Centre for Public Health Innovation (CPHI), works to empower village leaders to take charge in the fight against rabies.
The program provides communities with the knowledge, training, and tools to ensure their animals are healthy cared for, and vaccinated, to maintain herd immunity and control the threat of rabies in both dogs and humans.
Support from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), FOUR PAWS Australia, Green School Bali, and independent funding have made this program possible and seen it expand in recent years.
The difference is here.
There are dedicated teams of people going door to door in villages to ensure that dogs are up to date on their vaccinations. Teams provide information and coaching to locals to keep their pets healthy.
Through Program Dharma villages organize their own pet health days to ensure that the animals and people alike are all aware of the health implications such as rabies. This education benefits both people and animals alike.
The majority of people in Bali are not well off. The last thing people want to spend money on is veterinary care, sterilization, and shots for their pets.
Yet if you wander the beaches and see homeless dogs running around wearing red bandanas, those dogs have been fully up to date on their shots.
This is the type of work B.A.W.A. does and this is why they deserve donations and support from people and travellers around the world.
So the next time you are in Bali, or if you are reading this from other parts of the world, please support B.A.W.A. When you do get around to visiting Bali, Island of the Gods do not forget to stop by and visit the furry friends in Ubud at B.A.W.A.
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