HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While President Barack Obama and his family have been coming to Hawaii for vacation almost every year, it will be the first island visit for "First Dog" Bo. If he passes a veterinary exam when he lands, he'll be allowed to follow the Obama ohana to Kailua immediately.
He can do so under the state's "Five-Day-Or-Less" quarantine program, which has been on the books since 2003. Bo met the requirements, but the process began months in advance.
"It would take at least four months to qualify for the Five-Day-Or-Less quarantine, which has a provision for direct release at the airport if the owners do things as required," said state Agriculture Department spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi.
For starters, there's a $165 fee per pet. The dog or cat also has to have had at least two rabies shots in its lifetime, with the most recent one at least 90 days before it travels to Hawaii. It also has to have a microchip for identification, and have a blood test for rabies. Then there's a 120-day wait after the animal passes the blood test before it can enter the state. There's also paperwork to certify that all the requirements have been met.
According to the Ag Department, Bo is arriving the same way 80 to 85 percent of animals enter the state. As for the rest, some of them will end up at the department's Animal Quarantine facility in Halawa, where dogs and cats automatically used to spend 120 days before they could be reunited with their families.
If you're thinking about bringing a puppy to the islands, you can forget it. "They cannot get their rabies vaccinations until they're at least three months old," Saneishi said. "And then there's another three months (for the next vaccination), and another three months to wait. So the earliest a puppy could arrive is when its at least nine months old."
Saneishi said Bo met the requirements and had the paperwork months ago. "I'm not sure when the date was, but they did start the process quite early."
If the Obamas decide to bring Bo on vacation here again next year, they won't have to go through the whole process again, as long as its been less than three years since the rabies blood test, and all rabies shots are up to date.