State of the Union
The ancient Bali dog Bali people relationship remains ongoing and is most certainly enduring. There is no between in the union. As a body part functions with the whole, Bali dogs and Bali people move as one, separation is not a question to be asked, not until some malaise disease or drastic amputation occurs. In that respect the Union is healthy.
In general terms Bali people are now cohabiting with fewer Bali dogs. The reasons for this can be witnessed from economic and environmental impacts. As finances in our modern competitive world become constricted, food for dogs must give way to human and family survival. Even though historically Bali dogs have simply survived on family and community scraps, their free roaming activities have been severely curtailed, especially in urban areas. Therefore demand from dogs for more family compound based food sources has increased. Environmentally things have become physically tight. Space is at a premium in rapidly developing urban locales and more people negate dogs.
Bali people are also becoming more affluent and this corresponds with the purchase of foreign breed dogs. The urge for new and novel is most certainly not isolated to one culture or another. It’s generally spread across the globe and Bali people have in dog terms most certainly pinned their ears back and bought up big in foreign pooches. The obvious result of this has seen a drop in local dogs but an upsurge in crossbreeding. It’s not unusual to see Husky cross Bali dogs and endless themed variations trotting around or hunkered down in cramped cages. Small has also become fashionable; prize style is still in vogue, and again as space and access becomes more pressing, tiny canines fit the bill. The Union is changing and adapting but is still enduring.
There is no data readily available as to the number of RW restaurants on the island, so it’s not possible to determine if there is an increased market for dog meat, or if there is just increased noise about the trade on social media pages. Either way there is no doubt that the trade impacts on the number of dogs being seen on the streets and is a risk factor for the Bali dog survival. The extent is unknown.
To ensure the continued survival of the Bali Dog and its position within the fabric of Balinese culture there are several focus points that will need attention.
Continue to work with communities outside the tourist and urban areas. Use participatory methods to determine solutions to problems. Offer sterilisation as the only humane form of population control. Build community responsibility into any programs, even if it’s a long, long term program goal – keep it firmly in sight. Offer humane euthanasia for those populations that are unmanaged and where communities are resorting to cruel and inhumane practices to self-manage (i.e. puppy dumping or trading dogs for RW). Continue with education programs to ignite empathetic responses within young children in the hope of breeding a kinder generation. Encourage and motivate local people and groups to activate and agitate within all levels of government for government bodies to view humane animal management as a localised public health concern for which responsibility is shared.
Finally, encourage and empower local groups to lobby internally and externally on behalf of their Indigenous Dog.
As many of us know, they are worth fighting for.
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