According to the head of the Bali Veterinarian Association there are an estimated 600,000 to 1 million stray and semi-stray dogs in Bali. We call all of these dogs “Street Dogs”. Most of these dogs are not considered “pets” in the same since as in the West. In some cases, locals will give food scraps to street dogs and “adopt” them, but they will almost never allow them in their homes or attend to any of their medical needs. The dogs are left to fend for themselves.
The main medical problems affecting these animals are: skin parasites and fungus, internal parasites, parvo virus, distemper, and malnutrition. In addition, there has been a recent raise in the incidence of kennel cough. Fortunately, there are no reported cases of rabies.
Balinese Hindu Religion
In the Balinese Hindu religion (90% of the population) the story of Yudisthira is told to all Balinese from birth. Because it was a dog that led the Yudisthira to heaven, dogs are seen as crucial to some ceremonies, and are used as sacrifices.
All Balinese Hindus believe in “Karma Pala” or reincarnation, therefore they believe all things should be allowed to die naturally, or on their own.
Many of the dogs eat Balinese ceremonial offerings which are placed on the ground outside of homes and stores. Some of these offerings are for the evil spirits in the Balinese religion and contain very small amounts of meat, symbolizing blood. This is often the dogs only source of protein.
There are small restaurants called "warung anging" which sell meals made with dog meat. Often times this meat is infected and it is sold under conditions that are unhealthy and unsafe to both animals and humans. The people that are involved in this dog meat operation catch and steal street as well as pet dogs. They actually prefer pet dogs because they are usually friendlier and therefore easier to catch, and they are fatter. With the recent influx of Indonesians from other islands, many of whom eat dog meat, the problem has escalated.
VeterinariansThe estimated total number of veterinarians (private and governmental) on the island is less than 400. However, not all are practicing due to the current economic situation. Of these veterinarians only ten are involved in our Foundation’s fight to help the street animals. There is some reluctance for many veterinarians to help with Foundation because they fear that it is taking business away from them. Therefore, the Foundation has a policy of not treating domesticated animals or true “pets”.