In a decision certain to anger Bali's animal rights groups who argue the elimination of stray dog populations is an ineffective way to halt the spread of the rabies, the governor of Bali, Made Mangku Pastika, has directed that the extermination of ownerless dogs continue and be accelerated.
The governor has defended his decision, pointing to an estimated population of a half-million dogs in Bali. The governor has also made an argument for expediency, citing the high cost of inoculating all the dogs in Bali, particularly given the fact that each dog must receive a series of inoculations.
In response to critics of his preference for elimination over vaccination, Pastika, quoted in Radar Bali said: "I have a question (for my critics) in response: which do you love more, human beings or animals (dogs)? Of course, the answer is humans. And, for that reason, stray dogs must be eliminated, while dogs with owners must be cared for and vaccinated."
Obviously more than a little irritated with the continuing assault by animal-lover groups, Pastika warned to his audience, adding: "Who's going to take responsibility for the victims who contract rabies from dog bites? " Pointing to the high cost of the vaccine and its administration, Pastika asked: "Are these civic groups prepared to work for free for the indefinite future to provide vaccinations? Eventually, the question of funding will also arise."
In a unique response to the epidemic, the Bali animal rights group Yudistira held a day-long gathering for dog owners at a central square in downtown Denpasar on Sunday, December 6, 2009. The group handed out T-shirts with the slogan (in Indonesian) saying "Bring my Bali Back in a Rabies Free Status" The public were encouraged to bring their pets for a walk around the square after which free rabies vaccinations were distributed to the pets.
Radar Bali reports that their observation on a single day saw 29 patients at Sanglah General Hospital seeking anti-rabies serum after being bitten by a dog. Many of these dog bite victims traveled to Denpasar form outlying areas of Bali where hospitals claim to have no stock of the life-saving serum.
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