Ni Komang Erviani , Contributor , The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Mon, 12/01/2008 10:58 AM | Bali
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has ordered the Balinese people conduct a mass culling of stray dogs on the island to help the administration prevent a rabies outbreak.
The order was made Saturday in response to four deaths believed to be caused by rabies transmitted through dog bites in Ungasan village, Uluwatu.
As of Friday, 17 wild and domesticated dogs have been put down using lethal injection by the Yudhistira Swarga foundation for wild dog welfare, while 76 residents of Ungasan who were bitten by dogs, have been vaccinated by officers of the Badung Health Agency.
“The residents can just go ahead by taking the initiative to kill stray dogs. If the mass dog culling relied only on administration officers, it would take too long to get rid of,” said Pastika at an open house session with the Balinese people.
The existence of stray dogs along the streets, he said, had sped up the spread of the deadly rabies virus.
Laboratory tests showed the four — two elderly and two children — died because of dog bites, but it was still unclear whether they died because of rabies.
“But there is an indication, the four died because of bites by rabies-infected dogs. So we have to respond to it as quickly as possible to curb its spread,” Pastika said, adding rabies could only be controlled by killing the stray dogs.
The governor also urged dog owners to pay attention to the health of their pets and not to let them play with stray dogs.
“Domesticated dogs have also undergone health checks to detect whether they are healthy or are infected with rabies.”
Pastika ordered port officials to strengthen custom checks of goods entering Bali to prevent the illegal entrance of dogs from outer islands.
He said he believed the rabies infection was the result of dogs being smuggled into Bali from other islands.
Aside from dogs, Pastika also demanded the strict supervision of the entrance of other animals into Bali, like monkeys and cats, which transmit diseases to human beings.