Tourists like to visit Indonesia's Sanur Beach in Bali for its golden sand, tranquil water and luxury hotels. But one day in 2009, this popular tourist beach turned ugly: Balinese government officials marched onto the sand and started hitting local dogs with poison darts laced with the deadly compound strychnine.
Beachgoers watched in horror as dozens of dogs fell to the ground, foamed at the mouth and started convulsing with seizures. When a group of tourists begged for the attack to stop, the officials said they couldn't, and that they had orders to kill every dog in the area to make sure rabies didn't spread.
As this killing was taking place, a quick-thinking Dutch tourist draped a beach towel over a dappled chocolate dog who had been sitting with him, and amazingly, the dog stayed still for well over an hour until the kill squad left. Fearing the government officials would soon return, the Dutch tourist phoned Ebony Owens at the Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre (BARC), asking her to come rescue the dog.
When Owens arrived, the dog was shaking and initially scurried away from her, but she eventually coaxed him into her car. Then Owens drove the dog to safety at BARC's rehabilitation center in Ubud, naming him Sanur for the beach where he'd lived. Now, Sanur spends his days wagging his tail for tourists and bossing around the other rescue dogs at BARC's two-and-a-half-acre animal sanctuary.
Sanur had a lucky escape, but other Balinese dogs haven't been so fortunate. Bali dogs are indigenous canines who have lived in the streets and villages of Bali for over 5,000 years. They're medium-sized dogs characterized by short fur, upright ears and thin, sickle-shaped tails. Yet because of the Bali dogs' genetic diversity, they may have black, white, brown, golden or gray fur, and exhibit different ear and tail types.