Updated November 17, 2019
How we ended up Fostering a Dog in Bali
11 months ago, we quit our jobs and took off on a year long worldwide adventure – and never expected to foster a puppy and fall in love. Our first visit to Bali brought some incredible people into our lives: expats Jean Mario and Dana, who rescued 3 Bali dogs and teased me that I would succumb and also adopt a dog should we ever return. By a sudden change of plans we did end up returning for a longer 2 month stay as we waited to meet my parents in Japan.
A month into our stay our friends sent us photos of a 10 week old puppy they noticed outside a pharmacy. The workers found her by the Sukawati market (a common dog dumping ground) and were feeding her. Given her almost complete lack of energy and missing fur, our friends offered to take her to the vet and then return her. However they were concerned that the extra care she would need for a full recovery might not be met, so we volunteered to foster her during our stay.
Trying to find a forever home for a rescued Bali dog
After just a few days with Kacang, we began to see improvement in her energy. With lots of attention, her medication and Carl’s especially nutritional food, Kacang started lifting her head and showed interest in playing. We snapped pictures every day and reached out to all the major Bali dog rescue organizations but they’re all overwhelmed and do not focus on rehoming. While posting on the many expat and dog related Facebook groups every other day, I saw just as many other posts looking for adopters for recovered rescued dogs. For weeks all we got were likes and encouraging comments on our posts, but no one interested in adoption. When we neared our final 3 weeks in Bali, we realized we had to make a decision soon.
We could leave Kacang at a boarding house and sponsor her boarding costs and sterilization until one of the organizations could help us find an adopter, but we were told the timeline would be unpredictable and that she wasn’t likely to be adopted if all her fur didn’t grow back. Or, we could look into bringing her back home.
Bringing a Bali dog home to the US
Bali currently has a closed door policy on animals (due to the rabies outbreak) but professional companies can bypass this by taking pets through Jakarta first (this is illegal to do yourself) but that adds to the process and its costs. We’d already booked the remainder of our world trip, but the timing worked out that Kacang would require one more month in Bali for her rabies vaccine to take effect, so we would be heading home about the same time.
Requirements for importing dog from Bali to USA*
- 15 weeks of age (3 months old + 28 days Rabies vaccine to take effect)
- Vaccinations: rabies and distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus (DHLPP)
- Dogs who are 15 months or older must show a history of previous rabies vaccinations (with the first given after 3 months old) and have a record of all booster rabies vaccinations. As long as rabies vaccinations have been kept current, dogs with a history of previous rabies vaccinations do not need to wait 4 weeks before traveling.
- Rabies titer test is not required to enter
- Screwworm Inspection, Tapeworm Treatment
- Import Permit, Health Certificate
- Non-Commercial Import of Puppies
- Puppies entering the United States for non-commercial reasons from certain countries must be vaccinated for rabies at 3 months of age and wait for 28 days before entering the country. In certain cases, pre-approval for home quarantine can be obtained from the Center for Disease Control for unvaccinated puppies entering from non-rabies-free countries
Pet Transport Companies
We reached out to some of the most recommended pet transport companies mentioned in the Bali dog and expat groups, those who’ve successfully exported their dogs out to the States and Europe. Below is a table with information provided via email by the companies, some were much more forthcoming with information than others and you can see how great the price difference is depending on taking the pet as baggage (much cheaper) versus cargo.
Based on their excellent reviews, thoroughness in communication and affordability, we had intended to use Animal Express Jakarta. A couple days after our decision and starting our GoFundMe to help cover her export costs, another friend mentioned she was using the company Indoanimal Travel to move her 3 pups from Bali to Jakarta and while messaging them through Instagram, they connected us with another dog rescuer who was sending a couple of pups to the States as well. Since she had used the company before and sharing the car ride from Bali to Jakarta would help us save some money, we went ahead with Indoanimal Travel.
Kacang’s Journey to the States
After connecting with Indoanimal Travel and coordinating among the 3 adopted dogs for the earliest date they could all travel – basically once everyone was done with vaccines – Indoanimal Travel handled the transportation details for picking up all the dogs and driving them from Bali to Jakarta over a 2 day period. They also handled booking the flights for all the dogs going via manifested cargo (unaccompanied). Meanwhile, we finished going over the requirements with our local vet, Drh. Saka at Bali Deli Vet Clinic to make sure Kacang was ready to go otherwise. One thing we did mention but somehow never happened (to our knowledge) was the “Screwworm Inspection, Tapeworm Treatment”, which in the end, did not hinder Kacang’s trip over but was something our local vet in the States immediately suggested doing.
Since we were leaving Bali beginning of October when Kacang was only 3 months old and had just gotten her last rabies shot, she couldn’t leave Bali with us and instead got to split her month long wait between her “cousins’ place” and over at Happy Paws Dogstay until her transit day. The folks over at Happy Paws Dogstay were great about sending us photos and videos throughout Kacang’s stay. Kacang was picked up from Bali on November 3rd and confirmed to fly out November 8th, paid and “booked”.
A month later however we were told she was booked for a flight on November 9th and would be arriving in the States on the 10th. Luckily for us the date change was not too big of a deal, though we were a bit apprehensive with the sudden change when it had supposedly been booked. We became especially worried when we found out this had happened before to the fellow rescuer who’d used them but she was “promised” there would be no reschedules again.
Too late to change our minds, we simply waited and hoped all would go well. During their stay in Jakarta, Indoanimal Travel sent photos and videos of the pups periodically and showing their health inspections and paperwork. We also received photos of the certifications once they were completed and confirmation once Kacang was checked into the airport. At first she was scheduled to fly to Haneda airport, travel via truck to Narita and then fly on to SFO. A tracking number was provided and we could track Kacang’s progress through the Ana airline site. We were also asked to call Ana Airlines after the flight was booked to have them confirm with Jakarta that everything was ok. There was a small confusion with the request and Ana Airlines told us that they usually don’t have to confirm anything but would check for requests via their email. By November 8th it seemed everything was confirmed and ready to go.
The night of the 9th, prior to Kacang’s arrival, Indoanimal Travel forwarded us an email from Ana Airlines that the “shipment cannot proceed with truck, schedule change” which we couldn’t comprehend but discovered that Kacang’s flight details had completely changed and Kacang had flown straight to Narita and would not fly to SFO until the following day; arriving on the 11th. There was never any further explanation so on the morning of November 11th, with no new messages on my phone and her tracking page confirming she had departed from Narita airport, we headed out to SFO praying all was well.
Picking up Cargo from Ana Airlines, SFO
We drove past the International terminals along quiet streets towards the cargo warehouses; a whole mysterious part of SFO we’d never knew existed. We parked outside of the China Airlines/Ana Airlines warehouse and followed a random lady through an unmarked door, nothing on the facade of the building to guide us. Fortunately indoors there were more signs and we found the Ana Airline warehouse office. There I showed my passport and signed a couple of documents and then walked them over to the Immigration office, just on the other side of the same building. I handed our papers to the man on staff, but as we sat waiting as the guy made a phone call, apparently scolding Ana Airline for “sending people over to pick up cargo that’s put on hold”. My heart dropped and I could feel Carl tensing beside me. I strained my ears as the man called the warehouse to ask about the hold. Fortunately it seemed the hold was not an actual hold because we were given back some papers and told we could return to the office.
Back at the Ana Airline office we paid the Import Shipping Fee (IFS) of $80 cash and then took our papers to the warehouse, where we were finally able to pick up Kacang. As we walked in I immediately spotted her crate among all the boxes on metals shelves like a Costco on ‘roids, but we had to wait behind a line while the warehouse worker loaded her crate onto a dolly and wheeled her over to us. We could see her getting nervous as the crate moved so we called her name which prompted a song of whines. When her crate reached us, we let her out for some highly anticipated kisses and quickly got her leashed so we could walk her out to the car. And just like that it was done and we were reunited.
So all it took to bring a dog back to the US from Bali was the microchipping, rabies vaccinations and otherwise clean bill of health which will get you the pet health passport needed for proof of vaccinations, hiring a pet transportation company to move her from Bali to Jakarta and help us book her flight as unaccompanied cargo, and then signing papers and paying the IFS to pick her up at the airport. There was no quarantine time on the US side. In reality a fairly simple procedure, though quite costly. The whole process took about 2 months: a couple of weeks to research the transport companies, pick one and coordinate the timing, 1 month to wait out Kacang’s vaccination, and about a week for Kacang’s journey from Bali to the US.
Review of Indoanimal Travel
Our experience with Indoanimal Travel was overall good, however I would raise caution since they seem to have a habit of rescheduling. If you’ve got the flexibility and are looking for the most affordable rate, Indoanimal Travel is a good option. I also have a feeling that transporting a pet as excess baggage and flying with them, as opposed to unaccompanied cargo, might eliminate the surprises and reschedules, so that may also change your experience. When I contacted other private dog rescuers on Facebook, Seven Heaven Pet Express came the most highly recommended, but they had the highest price tag and we couldn’t afford them.
Kacang is finally home, safe and sound with us in the California. Despite the anxieties of the journey, we’re so grateful to Jean Mario and Dana, all the staff at Bali Deli Vet Care, Happy Paws Dogstay, and Indoanimal Travel. Thank you to all of our friends and family supporting our GoFundMe to help us with the unplanned expense. To learn more about the situation on the stray dogs in Bali, please read on. Keep an eye out for our next update as Kacang gets settled in her new home.
A simplified reality of the Bali (stray) dogs
There is an overpopulation of dogs. The 2008 rabies outbreak negatively effected tourism and the government attempted to control the rabies by mass cullings, which garnered international outcry. The outbreak and the response damaged the relationship between humans and dogs. In response, Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) teamed with the government to lead a mass vaccination as the alternate response to rabies; and in 2011 and 2013 there were additional mass vaccinations.
But due to fear of rabies, inability to afford pet healthcare, lack of sterilization and subsequent unplanned puppies, the act of poisoning or dumping dogs (and other pets) is fairly common. Typically Bali dogs suffer from skin conditions like mange, the highly contagious parvo, or motor accidents – all of which are treatable, though not all can spare the cost. Unlike western cultures, dog ownership here is sometimes communal, which can complicate responsibility for their care. Kept dogs are usually allowed to roam freely, which allows mating and contracting of diseases to occur very easily.
For those lucky pups that are rescued and recovered there’s the challenge of finding forever homes. Lots of expats or long term tourists come and try to rescue and foster but then eventually leave and are unable to take the dogs with them (exporting is expensive) which has led to completely overwhelmed care facilities and sometimes “re-dumped” dogs.
How to help Bali dogs
Now this is not a lost cause. There are lots of organizations and solo rescuers fighting this battle with education and animal care. The biggest needs are that of sterilization, vaccinations and the adoption of the rehabilitated animals. These are the following organizations I came across during my research.
BARC: A no kill shelter with a mission to raise awareness by provide education, expand ‘dog squad’ to enforce animal protection laws, provide sterilization, and run a basic clinic and are creating a multi-species sanctuary known as ‘Warrior’s Legacy’. You can fund a sterilization day for only $300 — they can provide free sterilization to 15-20 dogs/cats to locals who can’t afford it.
BAWA: practices humane population control, disease control and runs intensive education and advocacy programs for sustainable improvement to animal welfare now and into the future. BAWA will respond to alerts of any animal in distress with a 24/7 hotline and ambulance.
Mission Pawsible: Their mission is to support, educate, inspire and activate individuals to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animals in need, lower euthanasia rates, reduce the dumping and put puppy mills and backyard breeders out of business. Their website is a great resource for those rescuing or caring for dogs.
Bali Dog Halfway House: Their mission is to help our solo dog rescuers care for their rescued dogs by providing a temporary and safe place to stay until adoption.
Lucky Dog Rescue Bali: Solo rescuer who homes 12 dogs and has 20+ in her lucky dog rescue centre/hotel.
ACT 4 Bali Dogs: “Just 2 girls and a house full of dogs!” They focus on rescue, rehab, rehoming, vaccination, sterilization, and education.
Angels of Paws Bali: A solo rescuer who shares her home with over 20 rescued dogs and 4 rescued cats. She works full time with all these animals and many more so they have safety, vet care, food, rehabilitation, and training to be adopted.
What do I do if I find a dog in need
If you’re vacationing in Bali and come across a dog that looks like it needs help, try contacting BAWA via info[at]bawabali.com or dwi[at]bawabali.com for an emergency rescue. They are often unable to respond immediately but are best for helping critical animals. The next line of defense will come from the community and solo rescuers. There’s a great list of Facebook groups compiled by Mission Pawsible on this page: missionpawsible.org/rehome-rescue-pet where you can try to connect to people nearby that might be able to help, typically more so financially than physically. If you decide to foster the dog yourself, keep in mind that it will not be easy to find an adopter, especially if you do not have a lot of time. The best route for those who cannot fully commit is to allow the local organizations to handle the rescue. Also be aware that despite your best intentions you may encounter those keyboard warriors on the Facebook groups so steel your hearts and focus on the main thing.
Bali Deli Vet Care bali-deli-vet-care.business.site, Jl. A.A. Gede Rai, Lodtunduh
Happy Paws Dogstay happypawsdogstay.com, Jl. Turi No.30a, Kesiman, Kec. Denpasar
Indoanimal Travel Pet Transport House instagram.com/indoanimaltravel, Indoanimal Travel Pet House (Transit) The Icon Cluster Simplicity, Blok A3/9, Situ Gadung, Pagedangan, Tangerang, Banten 15338, Indonesia