Furrustration: Deciphering Hawaii Quarantine Laws

Cats, Dogs, Hawaii Quarantine, Pets — By on January 6, 2012

Thinking about taking your kamaaiana kitty to Kentucky? Want a Weimaraner from Wisconsin? Moving to Poipu with a pointer?

Hawaii is the only state in the nation that is rabies free and it’s rabid about keeping it that way. Unless your pet has been living in the British Isles, Australia, Guam or New Zealand for six months prior to traveling to Hawaii, your companion animal will need to meet quarantine requirements. Accordingly, it’s not unusual for breed aficionados to turn to down under and for purebreds to have Australian accents.

Although a 5 day or less quarantine option was introduced in 2003, extreme planning is necessary in order to utilize this program. It takes at least four months to qualify an adult pet that has had at least one rabies vaccination. By the time you complete a puppy or kitten’s preparations, they will be about 10 months old—barely a puppy or kitten any longer. If you do not have the time or ability to meet these requirements, your pet will be quarantined for 120 days upon entering or re-entering Hawaii which is, to say the least, purricey.

Unfortunately, preparing your pet for the 5 day or less program will introduce you to the same bulky State of Hawaii bureaucracy that led half this country to think that Obama was born abroad. Basically, the Department of Agriculture is attempting to ensure that your pet does not have rabies and will not get it even if they were exposed. They do this by requiring two verifiable rabies vaccinations spaced at least 30 days apart and an OIE-FAVN rabies blood test on a successfully microchipped pet.

Be prepared to practice the local expression, “Try wait.” Following a passing FAVN test result animals must wait at least 120 days before arriving in Hawaii. The early bird gets quarantined until the 120 days are up.

Hawaii pets can follow a modified version of the 5 day or less guidelines. In order to qualify, at least one rabies vaccination must be given and the test must be submitted at least a fortnight before leaving Hawaii. The advantage of this program is that the waiting period after a successful rabies blood test is shortened.  Not-so-common sense tip: it is a good idea to ascertain that Fido or Felix has passed the test before packing the squeaky toys.

If you’d like direct release of your pet at the airport, you must submit the original dog and cat import form (notarized), the two most current original rabies vaccination certificates and payment for each pet. They must be received no less than ten days before your pet arrives. Mainlanders, please note: mail from the continent gets here on island time…usually.

At the latest, the health certificate may arrive with your canine or feline. Pests may not so your pet should be treated with fipronil (a pest control). In case the dog eats any homework, bring along copies of all documentation and your first born child.

Although the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility accepts pets 24/7, there are reduced hours for airport release. If you would like to fly your pet directly to the Big Island, Kauai or Maui, you will need to get a Neighbor Island Inspection Permit at least 30 days in advance. If there is an incongruity in the paperwork, documents have gone astray, parasites are hitchhiking on your pet or the person fetching your pet(s) cannot prove they’re the authorized agent your pet will be transferred to the main quarantine station until these issues are resolved. Hence the moniker “5 days or less.”

Unique and somewhat more lenient terms apply to guide dogs and service dogs. But before you get any ideas, the inability to sleep without a certain foot-warming fox terrier does not make him a service dog according to Hawaii Quarantine.

Whatever you do, don’t cry wolf. Non-domestic dogs and cats such as wolves and Bengals and hybrids are prohibited. This is why some “German shepherds” in Hawaii look remarkably like little Red Riding Hood’s nemesis.

Make no bones about it; even with direct release, the Hawaii Quarantine process is furrustrating and time consuming. But if you’re like a dog with a bone, your kamaaina pooch will get the chance to chase a squirrel.

Credit: A big meowlo to program director Dr. Maeda for his time fact checking this article. He does not want your first born child.  He says an ice cream will do. Okay he didn’t say that either but he could have. Please access the Hawaii Department of Quarantine website at http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/aqs/info for complete information.

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