Program Dharma National Awards

The Voice of Sanur has featured the incredible work of Program Dharma before, and their efforts to make Sanur a better place to live, for both animals and humans. And now, we can happily say that their work to vaccinate, sterilise and improve the welfare of the dog and cat population in Sanur, has been recognised and applauded at a national level. Program Dharma and Sanur Kaja Village were awarded second place at the national awards for positive community initiatives, for their animal welfare programs. Built around the motto and ethos, ‘anjing terawat Bali sehat’, which means ‘healthy dog, safe community,’ Program Dharma has changed the landscape of Sanur for the better, with regular vet check days, and the introduction of feeding stations – which became a worldwide social media hit. Head of Sanur Kaja village, Pak I Made Sudana, hopes that Program Dharma initiatives are adopted throughout Bali and Indonesia, to improve the lives of Bali dogs, cats, and people, everywhere.

Pak I Made Sudana says that Sanur Village has been working with Program Dharma for over two years now, and in that time, amazing changes and improvements have been made. They are the most successful rabies eradication program in Bali, and have prioritised animal welfare by holding regular veterinary checkup days, and offering free vaccination and sterilisation to all Sanur dogs and cats. Most recently this took place at the Sanur Village Festival, with a mobile clinic set up for owners to bring their cats and dogs along to, have them vaccinated, sterilised (yes, operated on!), and to get advice about keeping pets healthy and cared for responsibly.

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Program Dharma performs amazing work and word always spreads quickly when the clinic is open for business. It doesn’t take long for a steady stream of cats, dogs and their owners to crowd the clinic, walking in, or being carried by whatever means possible – including tiny one-week-old puppies. To an outsider, it may have seemed confronting to see the makeshift clinic, cats and dogs in cages, waiting for their turn on the operating table. But the animals are under expert care as they recover from sedation on tarpaulins, under blankets and the watchful eye of vet nurses and owners.

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While the clinic may seem basic, it does take money to run the program. Village fundraising and donations from the public and private business enable the program to continue its good work in the community. Which is something that soon becomes apparent is worthwhile, not just to improve animal welfare, but to build a healthy, strong, community. Pak I Made Sudana urges other villages in Bali to adopt the program initiative, as the benefits, especially for tourist-based economies, are profound. Healthy looking cats and dogs, free from rabies and disease, and populations of well cared for animals that don’t have to fight and compete for scarce food, are good for the whole community. It makes the streets safer, encourages tourism, and more importantly, tourist investment in the village. So while animal welfare may be the primary goal, the secondary benefits to the entire community are also impressive.

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Everyone’s a winner with Program Dharma, the animals, the people, and as they recently found out at the national awards night, the program itself. It’s a fantastic next step in the program to be recognised and celebrated at such a high level, and as Pak I Made Sudana says, let’s hope it leads to other Bali villages adopting this amazing animal welfare, and village building, program.

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Written by Clare Srdarov and Suzanne Srdarov for The Voice of Sanur

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