Dogs are a common sight on the beaches in Hawaii, even swimming or riding on surf boards. But getting them here is another matter.
The Presidential dog, Bo, stayed behind when the first family came to Hawaii for the holidays. Media coverage mentioned the state's strict animal quarantine laws. While it is true that Hawaii restricts animal visitors, it is a little easier than it used to be to bring pets with you on your Hawaii vacation. There now is a five-day-or-less program that abbreviates the 120-day quarantine requirement and animals now may qualify for direct release at Kona Airport (Big Island), Kahului Airport (Maui), and Lihue Airport (Kauai) in addition to Honolulu. That said, it is still a detailed and somewhat expensive process.
Hawaii is the only state that is rabies-free and the pet quarantine law is designed to keep it that way. Because there is no rabies on the islands, resident pets do not have to be vaccinated. The accidental introduction of rabies in Hawaii would impact all domestic pets and other native animals, many of which are unique to the islands.
Animals from the British Isles, Australia, Guam and New Zealand may qualify for an exemption, but owners must apply for it and provide the required documentation. All pet owners should plan months in advance if they wish to consider bringing pets along. The exact regulations are listed on the state website: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/aqs/info
If your animal companion is a member of the family you can't imagine traveling without, do your homework and allow lots of time to comply with the quarantine law. It's not impossible but it cannot be done on the spur of the moment. After reading the regulations, you may decide, along with the Obamas, to share your memories and perhaps a special treat with your pet upon your return from Hawaii.
December 29th, 2009