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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Travel rules eased for pets

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i residents who travel out of state with their pets will not have to place the animals in quarantine when they return, under a rule change approved yesterday by the state Board of Agriculture.

Quarantine fees

• Hawai'i animals in direct-release program, $165

• Subsequent trips for Hawai'i animals within 18-month period, $78

• Five-day or less program, $224

• 30-day program, $655

• 120-day program, $1,080

Source: Department of Agriculture

The change still requires final approval from Gov. Linda Lingle, who in June approved sweeping changes to a law originally written in 1912.

"We're delighted that the rules continue to be revised to make it easier for visitors and residents to travel with their pets, while still ensuring Hawai'i remains rabies free," the governor said yesterday.

The board yesterday eliminated a 120-day waiting period for Hawai'i-born animals returning to the state. The wait was deemed unnecessary because it was designed to detect incubating rabies in vaccinated pets and rabies is not present in Hawai'i.

Hawai'i pet owners must still have a microchip implanted in their animal to identify it. The animal also must pass a blood test that can be taken no less than 14 days prior to departure. Two vaccinations at least 90 days apart are also needed, the second given no later than 14 days before the trip.

A health certificate signed by a local veterinarian will be required to prove residency.

The quarantine rules approved in June allow pets from the Mainland to have a quarantine of five days or less if they meet strict requirements for vaccinations and testing.

But without the change yesterday, Hawai'i owners would have had to place their pets in a 120-day quarantine when they came back.

State Veterinarian James Foppoli said the new rules could take effect as early as February.

The board held five public hearings on the issue last month, but heard more testimony yesterday.

'Ewa Beach resident Leonard Antonio told the board he wanted to enter a Doberman pinscher in a national dog show next October in Cincinnati. He was happy about the change.

"Hawai'i people can have good show dogs, too," he said after the decision. "It's just that we have all these quarantine restrictions."

But Wahiawa resident Jeanne Ishikawa urged caution over rule changes. Anything that further relaxes the restrictions is "risky" and "dangerous," she said.

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.