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Saving the Dogs of Bali
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Dogs on scooters are a common sight on clinic day (left), surgeries in progress (right).

“I grew up never wanting to touch or even look at a dog,” says Nidya Viani, who works in Girardi’s jewelry company and was raised a strict Muslim. “But I’ve learned from Janice that if you love a dog, it will love you right back.”

Viani did some research after finding herself in the midst of dog lovers and learned that haram had its roots in rabies prevention rather than an innate dislike of dogs, and that the Prophet Mohammed actually encouraged the love of animals. “Now I don’t have to be afraid that I’m going against my religion,” she says. Viani has even become a frequent cuddler with office fixture and Bali Dog ambassadress Tina Turner (who has great legs and a throaty bark).

“BAWA is making a lot of progress in changing the way that people take care of their dogs,” says Dr. Son Soeharsono, a vet who has been practicing since 1974 and works with BAWA on many issues. “But there is still a lot to do.”

And that’s what keeps Girardi up nights. She is particularly frustrated by people who love animals but won’t take action because they don’t think one person can make a difference in the face of centuries of entrenched beliefs. This was the case with a government official who privately endorsed mass vaccination for rabies, yet refused to speak out against culling.

“I told him that there are countless examples of people acting alone and having a huge impact,” she said.

In fact, he was looking at one.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 56: Sept/Oct 2009
Twig Mowatt covered the drug war in Colombia for the New York Times and the Associated Press and now writes about animal issues. She works closely with dog rescue organizations in Puerto Rico and with GREY2K USA. grey2kusa.org

Photography by Anne Marie & Holli Hollitzer

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