So last night I was walking home from town, and admittedly I may have had one or three glasses of fine Hatten wine, but somewhere on Jl Sugriwa in Ubud I was bitten by a dog! HOLY SHIZ, it was scary. Jl Sugriwa is a very dark street at night because there are hardly any streetlights… there are a lot of streets like that in Ubud.
Thank God for the wonderful Nyoman at Sandat homestay, who upon seeing me crash back into the gardens at midnight with toothmarks in my right calf, promptly showered the wound in arak and some other other potent-smelling spirits, and squeezed the blood out from the surrounding area to stop any infection spreading (that’s what all that bruising is!)
First thing this morning Wayan, his son, took me to the local clinic, where I waited only 20 minutes before being given two injections. One was the first of three jabs in a course of treatment I’ll have to have over the next two weeks, and one was an imuneglubulin (umm, not really sure what that is).
Anyway I’m so grateful to these people, as well as the people who wrote to me on Facebook about the seriousness of getting a rabies jab. I was reluctant to go at first because I read online about some tourists having to pay $2500 for the treatment at other non-government-funded clinics. I only paid RP 150,000 (about $14), probably because I went with a local and he explained I didn’t have travel insurance (I know, stupid, it recently expired).
Obviously there are hundreds of dogs roaming the streets of Bali and they’re a different breed of beast altogether once night falls. By day they’re quite content to laze about snoozing, maybe raising the odd eyebrow as you pass like many of their owners, but once the moon comes out to play the streets are a battlefield between man (or tipsy tourist) and beast. I used to live on another street which was home to a pack of dogs that would chase me and bark, but I’ve never actually been bitten before. I’ve never met anyone who’s been bitten by a dog actually. A few monkeys maybe…
I’ve since moved.
Oh, and I’m really grateful to BAWA, (Bali Animal Welfare Association) who continue to do an amazing job in vaccinating stray dogs against rabies in Bali. Cases of the fatal disease in humans have reduced dramatically over the past year alone. Knowing about the work they’re doing made me a little less concerned about foaming at the mouth, keeling over and having to be put down myself.
Due to the rabies outbreak in late 2008, a law was put in place to state that all dogs in Bali must be chained, caged or killed. However, in spite of BAWA’s tireless efforts and the vaccination of more than 275,000 dogs, there has still been a disappointing lack of effort by the Balinese community or government to educate people in animal welfare or responsible pet ownership.Let the toothmarks in my right leg be a warning to everyone who visits Bali. Those dogs are just doing their job, but they’re not all bark and no bite. Get those jabs before you come!