Indonesia Expat

Garda Satwa Indonesia: Defenders of Animal Welfare

Animal wellbeing is often overlooked in Indonesia. Most people are still unaware of their job to protect animals and care for the planet we inhabit. Non-profit organization (NGO) Garda Satwa Indonesia (GSI) brings this issue to light through tireless acts of animal rescue and adoption.

When taking a stroll down the streets of Jakarta, or elsewhere in Indonesia, we frequently find stray dogs and cats in poor health conditions. It is also common to find cases of animals being mistreated due to a lack of understanding and compassion, or to put it simply, a sense of humanity. This tragic reality motivated GSI to take charge.

“At first we were just a group of people who care for the animals and were concerned with multiple cases of animal abuse, yet being merely concerned was not enough. We needed actions. Therefore, GSI was established to achieve our mission of caring for the animals, especially domestic animals,” founder Davina Veronica explains.

Veronica admits that animal awareness remains a minor issue for Indonesians because many people still live below the poverty line and focus on feeding themselves. Further, animal protection policies are rarely acknowledged and the government is not doing enough to educate the public and find solutions to these problems, such as building more animal shelters. All of this ultimately results in neglecting to keep animals safe from harm.

In reality, many people in Indonesia question the importance of providing care for animals while basic human needs have not yet been met.

“A lot of people think, ‘Our lives are not yet prosperous, why should we think about animals’ rights?’” Veronica laments. But she believes that our existence on this planet should not solely be concerned with our own wellbeing, but also with that of the animals and of nature – altogether aiming for what is known as the ‘balance of nature’.

The idea of this balance among conservationists and environmentalists generally refers to the duty to protect nature and biodiversity in order to keep the ecological systems in a stable equilibrium. Veronica’s views echo the notion; that the planet and all things living on it are humans’ responsibility, and when they become threatened or extinct, there should be no one left to blame but mankind.

Garda Satwa Indonesia rescuing an abandoned dog
Garda Satwa Indonesia rescuing an abandoned dog

“Extinction is permanent. But we don’t need to take the discussion that far [to see the damage it can cause],” Veronica says. “Let’s take an example. Dogs and cats neglected on the streets may carry viruses and bacteria like rabies, toxoplasmosis, and leptospirosis that can be contagious to humans. If their health and wellbeing are maintained, then these viruses would pose no threat to us. Humans are the ones who play a role in controlling this.”

In order to help protect the wellbeing of animals in Jakarta, GSI provides animal rescue and adoption services, with their main shelter located in Tangerang, Banten. Since their arrival in 2014, GSI has rescued almost 300 animals and has seen 78 people become adopters of animals needing homes. The process of adopting, according to Veronica, is extremely strict because most animals in their shelters are victims of abuse by previous owners. Hence, the NGO handles the selection procedures very carefully.

First, GSI surveys the potential owners by visiting and interviewing members of the house. Next, potential owners need to fill in a form and sign the adoption agreement. If they match the criteria that GSI seeks, then candidates will need to come to the shelter and meet their future pets. Throughout the adoption process, the organization can also check up on the adopted pets to make sure that they are in good hands. If the pets turn out to be mistreated, then GSI has every right to take the pets with them and sue the owners. Veronica reinforces that communication with the owners is crucial in ensuring the animal’s conditions after being adopted.

Rescued dogs at Garda Satwa Indonesia's shelter
Rescued dogs at Garda Satwa Indonesia’s shelter

Aside from adoption, GSI also helps raise awareness about animal welfare by visiting schools and universities, promoting their campaign through social media, and holding events which include public figures to further attract the masses to get involved.

The journey to achieving animal welfare is not an easy one. It requires an understanding that humans hold the key to making it happen and that animal abuse is indeed a criminal act. GSI’s main goal is for people to understand this fact.

“Our biggest dream is not to take in 1,000 animals, but that facilities like us will no longer need to exist in the future because people will have truly understood that it is their responsibility as human beings to ensure animals are well treated,” Veronica concludes.

For that reason, we should all take heed to the message that GSI and other animal welfare organizations try to spread. Maintaining animal welfare is a pivotal role that everyone should play in order to maintain a healthy balance in a world that we all inhabit. Without the willingness and the commitment to play our duty, that vision will forever remain a fantasy.

For more information and to find out how you can help, please visit


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