The rule change shortened the quarantine confinement for pets that meet requirements before they get here, reducing the stay to five days or less rather than the present 30- to 120-day quarantine.
State officials have enforced a quarantine since 1912 to ensure that rabies is not introduced into Hawaii, the only state free of the disease. Till now, the confinement period was reduced only once — in 1997, when a 30-day option began.
The main fear has been that a rabid pet could come in contact with a mongoose or other feral animal, spreading the disease in the wild.
Veterinarian Isaac Maeda, program manager at the state’s rabies quarantine branch, has said a department analysis last year showed that reducing quarantine to five days “does not substantially increase the risk of introducing rabies into the state,” as long as the program includes proper rabies vaccination, blood tests and a 120-day waiting period before animals arrive.
The five-day quarantine, which goes into effect on June 30, will be a third option for bringing pets to the state. Under the new program, pets that meet state criteria may be released from the airport directly to their owners or stay a maximum of five days at the quarantine station.
To have a pet released at the airport, an owner would also have to provide documentation 10 days before arrival that the other requirements had been met.
Pet owners hoping for shorter confinement of their animals upon arrival must present proof that their animal has had two rabies vaccinations, microchip implantation for identification and clean results of blood serum tests. Quarantine costs for the reduced confinement program will be $165 if the pet qualifies for direct release from the airport and $224 if the pet must be held for up to five days.
To qualify for a five-day pet quarantine, owners must prepare at least four months in advance:
- Pets will need a microchip implanted for identification.
- The pet will need a rabies shot and a booster, which can be no less than three months apart and not more than one year apart.
- Animals should have passed a blood serum test, with results e-mailed to Hawaii officials by the testing lab. Pets cannot enter the state till 120 days after the blood sample is received by the state.
- Hawaii officials must receive a health certificate from the pet’s veterinarian at least 10 days before the animal’s arrival, with all test results and health certificates sent by e-mail to prevent fraud.
- At the airport, animal quarantine officials will inspect every incoming pet, check its chip to confirm its identity and release the animal to its owner if everything is in order.
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Animal Quarantine Station
99-951 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, Hawaii 96701-5602