UBUD, Bali, Indonesia––The Bali Animal Welfare Association was on September 30, 2013 closed by police for allegedly operating without permits, apparently following complaints from veterinarians about competition from the BAWA street dog clinic.
“Our ambulance and spay/neuter team are not allowed to work until we get the clinic permit, which will take a few months,” founder Janice Girardi said.
“Even then,” Girardi added, “we will have to change the 2009 rabies control law that says we can’t transport dogs over regional borders. It passed when rabies was only in two areas. Now that all of Bali has had cases, the law should be changed,” so that dogs can be taken to veterinary clinics as necessary.
“BAWA continues to run educational and community programs,” Girardi said. “We still have our 24-7 hot line, liaising with local vets, doing street feeding and treatments. Our vets can work within their own regions, under their regional and Bali vet permits, so we are still assisting them, but not out of the BAWA ambulance. BAWA was invited to visit the island of Sumbawa in September,” Girardi mentioned, “to vaccinate and provide medical attention on the southwest coast. The BAWA team spent a week in Sumbawa and were able to spay/neuter and provide skin and anti-parasitic treatments to 103 dogs.”
BAWA was cited for purported pollution violations, lacking building permits, and failing to produce an environmental impact study, after local political transitions increased the influence of office holders who favored killing street dogs to combat rabies, an approach that failed utterly from mid-2008 until 2010, when BAWA introduced a successful mass vaccination program.
BAWA has also clashed with well-connected dogfighters and the operators of dog meat restaurants––technically illegal, but ignored and even patronized by Bali officials.
Said the Bali Advertiser, “The real story behind the precipitate action by Bali’s authorities to close down BAWA will probably never be known. The only people who get pinged over license issues here are those who have trodden on some bigwig’s ego, often with good reason.
“BAWA does sterling work with Bali’s street dogs, many of whom live appalling lives that should shame anyone with a conscience. BAWA founder and chief organizer Janice Girardi personally funded Bali’s first-ever rabies campaign in late 2009 as proof for international funders that it is possible to catch and vaccinate dogs who have never before been handled by humans. BAWA vaccinated 210,000 dogs in six months during that pilot program.
“BAWA had a stellar reputation with the provincial local government until this year when many positions in animal husbandry were switched. Girardi was away from Bali when the authorities chose to swoop. That they did so then instead of waiting for her to get home is itself a disgrace that prompts questions.”
“Selective & discriminatory”
Added Bali Discovery, published by Bali Discovery Tours, “Many have claimed that the very strict enforcement steps taken by the Gianyar administration against BAWA were selective and discriminatory, taken in perceived retaliation for BAWA’s spirited and outspoken promotion of rabies prevention and animal rights. As the deadline for closure loomed, rescue programs were forced to halt. BAWA workers scrambled to find homes for the nearly 100 animals still under their care.”
Bali Discovery Tours owner Jack Daniels personally appealed to Bali governor I Made Mangku Pastika on behalf of BAWA.