State program shortens time separating mainland pets and owners - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State program shortens time separating mainland pets and owners

Dr. Isaac Maeda Dr. Isaac Maeda

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HALAWA (KHNL) - Moving to an island state can present a unique set of challenges, especially if you're bringing your pets with you.  Our state is rabies-free, which means mainland dogs and cats have to go through a detailed process to get them cleared, but a program adopted a few years ago has greatly reduced wait time for pet owners.

It basically eliminates wait time for pets moving to Hawaii, but the key is planning ahead in your home state. Otherwise, your pet still has to go through a 120-day quarantine here.

This is a ritual Doug Anderson goes through several times a week. He signs in to see his dog Cody, a two-year-old Shetland sheepdog.

The two have been separated for three months because Anderson only had several weeks to move out here from California.

"It was really hard at first because he's terribly bashful as you can tell and he would hide back in that room and wouldn't come out for the first couple of weeks and I was concerned about him," said Anderson, who moved from Sacramento.

Anderson is among a minority of people who bring pets from the mainland.  Since the Department of Agriculture implemented its updated animal quarantine law in 2003, only seven percent of pets had to go through the four-month quarantine requirement.

The vast majority -- 93 percent -- qualified for direct release (82 percent) or five-day release (11 percent).  And it's had a dramatic impact at the animal quarantine center.

Before the program got started almost all of these kennels were full, now only about a third are in use.  That's because many animal owners are starting the process before they move.

"You can actually do the necessary preparation, vaccination, microchip identification and testing, and the waiting period," said Dr. Isaac Maeda, the animal quarantine program manager for the state.  "You can actually qualify for release at the airport."

For folks who don't know they're moving to Hawaii until the last minute, Anderson says, not to worry.

"I don't know about advice but I would not be as concerned as I was before I moved here, because as you can see it's clean, it's well kept, it's wet right now because they just cleaned it," said Anderson. "And they do that a couple of times a day."

Cody's almost done with his 120 days.  He'll be going home in less than two weeks, and Anderson couldn't be happier.

"He's like my kid, really," said Anderson. "We're very close. He's like my best friend. He's really cool."

Everything you need to know about the process is on the Department of Agriculture's Web site.  Click the link on this page to find out more.

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