Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said Thursday that the provincial husbandry agency's rabies team mHst implement the 2009 rabies prevention bylaw firmly in an attempt to curb rabies on the island.
Pastika stressed that any stay dogs should be killed immediately to prevent people from being bitten.
'If any stray dogs are found, feel free to eliminate them. It has been stipulated in the bylaw that dog owners have to confine their pets at home,' Pastika said during a meeting at the governor's office in Denpasar.
Pastika said that the implementation of the rabies prevention bylaw must be firm, as stray rabid dogs were the main cause of rabies in humans. 'It is more dangerous if we let the stray dogs roam,' he said.
'There is no need to catch them, put them in a shelter or something. Just cull them. It is the dog owners' fault for letting their dogs stray,' Pastika said.
If needed, he suggested the team work with the police. 'If any dog owners protest, just show them the bylaw. It is their fault. They should keep their dogs at home,' he added.
Enacted in 2009, the rabies prevention bylaw stipulates that dog owners have to keep their pets at home and have them vaccinated regularly. Anyone in violation of the bylaw faces a maximum of six months in prison or a fine of Rp 50 million (US$4,100).
However, many dog owners are still unaware of the bylaw and let their dogs roam free.
Since rabies first broke out on the island in November 2008, 147 people have died from the disease. This comprises four deaths in 2008, 28 deaths in 2009, 82 in 2010, 23 in 2011, eight in 2012, one in 2013 and one in 2014.
The administration had set an ambitious target of freeing Bali from rabies by 2015, but will fail to reach this as cases of rabies still occurred in 2013. Bali can only declare itself rabies-free if there are no cases of rabies found in humans or animals within a two-year period.
Bali has now pledged to be a rabies-free island by 2020.
Pastika said that the work to free the island from rabies had been hampered by dog owners who were unaware of the rules. This had resulted in a high cost for rabies prevention.
The epidemic led the Bali administration to provide free vaccines for dogs and affected humans. For 2009, the administration allocated Rp 600 million from its provincial budget to distribute free vaccines to all regional hospitals on the island. This increased to Rp 3.5 billion in 2010, Rp 6.4 billion in 2011, falling slightly to Rp 6 billion in 2012, then Rp 4.3 billion in 2013 and rising again to Rp 4.7 billion in 2014.
'The cost to be rabies-free is really high,' Pastika said.
Mass vaccinations have also been held, targeting more than 300,000 dogs each time. But the number of dog bite cases is still high and rabies cases are still found.
The provincial husbandry agency had found seven rabid dogs in five regencies by mid-June this year in Jembrana, Bangli, Buleleng, Klungkung and Karangasem.