The role of pets in Balinese culture
As with many regions throughout the developing world, Bali is home to a large number of stray animals. When it comes to the relationship between the Balinese people and the dogs, there are many differences from what many of us are used to in the West.
Most households have at least one dog, and the main role of that dog is to function as a guard. This can include keeping people away from their home complex or protecting fields, crops, and livestock in rural areas. The locals have developed a keen ear for recognizing the distinct barks of their dogs. It is also believed that the dogs can detect when spirits visit and will bark to notify their keepers. They even have distinct barks to warn of nearby snakes on the property.
It is also common for dogs and cats to receive leftover food scraps, which helps to cut down on waste around the family compound. In that sense, there are fewer wild animals like rats that would normally feed on any wasted food items. The presence of cats and dogs also discourages pests from entering the home or farms. Reduction in pests leads to lower disease transmission and wild predator populations.
Many families are now opting to buy breed dogs as pets, but will usually only own one and it is kept for it’s aesthetics. There will still be many Balinese dogs on their properties that serve as working dogs for the compound. Locals think of breed dogs as lazy and unintelligent compared to the local Balinese dog. The local Balinese dogs are a natural genetic mixture of dingoes, Chow Chows and Akita.
Although it may seem like there are a large number of homeless dogs, most dogs on the street have somewhere they live. These dogs tend to spend their time around local businesses or family compounds where they return each day. Unlike in western society, these dogs are not considered to belong to those people, and the locals generally do not actively care for the dogs directly.
The Impact of rabies on Bali dogs
In 2008, there was a massive outbreak of rabies throughout Bali, with dogs acting as one of the main hosts. In response, the government put programs in place to provide rabies vaccinations to a large number of dogs. Unfortunately, when this measure did not work, they resorted to mass culling of the dogs on both mainland Bali and the Nusa islands. In response to this event and the overpopulation crisis, many passionate individuals have grouped together to form local animal advocacy groups. As a local dive centre, we support the work of a non-profit called the Paws of Lembongan.
The formation of Paws of Lembongan
The non-profit organization Paws of Lembongan formed in order to provide compassionate care for cats and dogs on both Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. This provided a much needed answer to implementing a humane solution to concerns of overpopulation. The organization conducts regular vet visits to the islands in order to provide much needed care to resident cats and dogs. This includes sterilization of both male and female animals, vaccination against disease, and any treatments required to help sick or injured animals.
How pet owners can benefit
Anyone can bring a dog or cat to their pop-up clinic for treatment, and it is requested that a donation be provided to offset costs. For local animals this is often not required as it is vital for the health and success of the community as a whole. For anyone that is bringing a purchased or breed specific pet, a donation is requested to help cover the expenses required for treatments.
In order to provide these vital services, Paws of Lembongan relies heavily on funds raised through donations. Ceningan Divers, like many local businesses, have partnered with Paws of Lembongan in order to help collect donations on their behalf. For any divers who are generous enough to donate, a stamp can be provided in their logbook from Paws of Lembongan as a thank you.
The cost of providing veterinary services
The amazing people who run the organization are all volunteers, with funding required only to cover the cost of the supplies, treatments and veterinary staff transfer from the mainland. At the time of writing this article, the cost for the common procedures are:
~ 100,000 IDR for each dog vaccination
~ 180,000 IDR for each cat vaccination
~ 400,000 IDR for each female dog sterilization
~ 300,000 IDR for each male dog sterilization
*This does not include the cost for the materials used including, tranquilizer, antibiotics, stitches, etc.
For any pets that are sterilized, the animal will receive all vaccinations and a tattoo as well. For owners who have purchased their pet, the organization requests 50% of the costs to be paid by the owner.
For anyone bringing in a pet local dog, it is requested that donations be provided, with a suggested price around 100,000 IDR. Strays are always provided care free of charge, and our resort dog, Blackie, and other local dogs surrounding our site have all been sterilized and vaccinated thanks to this organization.
How you can get involved
With veterinary visits occurring around twice per month, there are many opportunities to help with the pop-up clinics when they visit. The vet visit is usually announced on social media a week or two leading up to the date, so sharing that information with your network and around the community is vital.
The clinic prioritizes any animals brought in by owners or volunteers for initial treatment. Once those animals are treated, there is demand for volunteers to help search for intact stray animals that can then be collected. Paws of Lembongan has a blow dart that they use to anesthetize the stray animals. They will then be checked for a tattoo, whether they have been spayed / neutered, and if they are in need of medical attention.
For anyone that is not able to dedicate the time to volunteer, donations are always welcome. Since the organization relies on public donations to operate, this is one of the most important means for providing assistance. There are two main ways to donate:
- Providing donations to local businesses that support the cause. Many dive shops have a “Dive for Dogs” poster in their shops and will provide the special stamp in return for donations.
- Donating through the established go fund me page directly: www.gofundme.com/paws-of-lembongan-vaccinations
If you are interested in learning more about the organization, check out their website: www.pawsoflembongan.com