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For Immediate Release
June 30, 2000

Governor Approves New Quarantine Rules Allowing Service Dogs to Enter Hawaii without Quarantine

Honolulu - Governor Ben Cayetano has approved new rules proposed by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) that allows service dogs for the disabled to enter the state without having to go through the rabies quarantine program. The exemption will be effective July 10, 2000 and is similar to the exemption made for guide dogs for the blind in 1998.

"The state remains strongly committed to keeping rabies from ever entering Hawaii," said Governor Cayetano. "However, guide dogs and service dogs provide such essential assistance to their owners that an exemption is warranted for these specific cases."

Under the amended rules, service dogs are defined as any dog that has been trained to assist persons who are hearing-impaired, mobility-impaired, or that alert people with a seizure disorder to the onset of a seizure or alert a person to the onset of an impending life-threatening medical crisis.

While guide dogs and service dogs are exempt from quarantine, they are still required to complete certain pre-shipment and post-arrival requirements; including obtaining a health certificate from a certified veterinarian, prior inoculations of rabies vaccine, pre- and post-shipment testing for the presence of rabies antibodies and inspection for external parasites.

"Given the relatively small number of guide and service dogs entering the state, the department believes that the risk of rabies introduction by these groups of animals is nil," said state veterinarian Dr. James M. Foppoli. "In addition, these dogs are usually well taken care of healthwise."

Rules previously in place for guide dogs have also been amended to reduce the overall complexity of the program for guide and service dog users. Users of guide and service dogs are no longer required to reside at a state pre-approved and inspected site, and other local animals can be kept on the same premises. Rather than having a physical examination by a veterinarian after 30 days in the state, guide and service dog owners need only report the health status of the dog to an Animal Quarantine employee 30 to 40 days after arrival.

In addition, the amended rule allows owners of all quarantined pets to obtain identification microchips from sources other than the HDOA. It also allows cats, dogs and other carnivores to travel to Hawaii on cruise ships without being subject to quarantine as long as the animals stay aboard the ship at all times and completes travel in Hawaiian waters within 10 days.

A series of public hearings was held throughout the state on the proposed rule changes prior to the Governor's approval.

Since the exemption was made for guide dogs in 1998, about 26 blind owners have applied and qualified for the exemption. The Animal Quarantine Station oversees the care of about 5,000 dogs and cats imported to Hawaii annually.

Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the U.S. All dogs and cats entering the state must undergo either a 120-day quarantine or, if certain pre-shipment and post-arrival requirements are met, a 30-day quarantine. Only dogs and cats entering from New Zealand, Australia and the British Isles are exempt due to their rabies-free status.

For more information, please call Dr. James Foppoli, state veterinarian at 483-7103.