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For Immediate Release: April 17, 2003


HONOLULU – The Hawaii Board of Agriculture today voted six to two to approve a five-day or less rabies quarantine proposal, which would essentially eliminate quarantine for pets whose owners complete pre-arrival requirements and submit all required documents in a timely manner. The proposal now goes to the Attorney General's Office, the Departments of Budget and Finance (B & F) and Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) for review and then to Governor Linda Lingle for final approval.

"The approval of this new program is a positive step in reducing the burdens of quarantine on pets and their owners and also reducing the cost of bringing pets to Hawaii," said Governor Lingle. "The program will also allow Hawaii residents to travel with their pets and return to Hawaii without quarantine if they follow the specified procedures before they leave."

"We are pleased that the Board has approved the five-day or less quarantine as proposed by the department," said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Board of Agriculture. "It is a progressive move, with adequate safeguards to prevent the introduction of rabies into the state."

Under the new program, pets may be released within five days or less, ideally at Honolulu International Airport, depending on the time it takes owners to provide all the required information regarding pre-arrival requirements that include:

z Two rabies vaccinations, with the last vaccination administered no more than 12 months prior to arrival if it was a one-year vaccine, or no more than 18 months prior to arrival if it was a three-year vaccine. (The two vaccinations may not be administered within 90 days of each other; and the last vaccine must be administered no less than 90 days prior to the pet's entry into the state);

z Microchip implantation for identification purposes;

z Blood serum test results with sufficient level of rabies antibodies; and

z 120-day pre-arrival waiting period between the time the lab receives the blood sample and the earliest date the pet may enter the state under the new program. The pre-arrival waiting period is necessary due to the long and variable length of rabies incubation, where the virus may hide in an animal before clinical signs of the disease become apparent. There is no test that can determine if an animal is carrying the rabies virus other than post-mortem.

The five-day or less quarantine program is a new option. The 30-day and the 120-day quarantine programs remain in effect for those pets who do not satisfy the new requirements. Fees for the five-day or less program will be $224 for up to five days of quarantine, and $165 for direct release from the airport. The cost of the 30-day and the 120-day quarantine programs remains at $655 and $1,080, respectively.

The Board also voted to eliminate the post-arrival blood test for the 30-day quarantine. The five-day or less quarantine program does not require a post-arrival blood test.

Dogs and cats from Guam will be exempted from rabies quarantine due to their rabies-free status and establishment of import requirements as stringent as those in Hawaii. Such status is already given to dogs and cats from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.

In September 2002, the Board sent a five-day quarantine proposal to public hearings. The proposal was later amended to include the option of a less than five-day quarantine if all documents regarding pre-arrival requirements are submitted by the owner and can be verified in a shorter period. Public hearings were held in March 2003. During the public comment period, 387 individual written and oral testimonies were submitted to the board for consideration.

Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the nation. In 2002, there were 4,681 dogs and cats that completed quarantine in Hawaii. About 75 percent of those pets qualified for the 30-day program. The expectation is that the new option will effectively end quarantine in Hawaii for about half of arriving pets.

For more information on Hawaii's rabies exclusion programs, go to the department's website at: Click on "Importing."

For more information, contact:

Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560