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For Immediate Release: October 14, 2003



HONOLULU - More than 80 percent of dogs and cats arriving in Hawaii last month qualified for the state's new 5-day-or-less rabies quarantine program, an amount far exceeding previous estimates. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) reports that the numbers of pets released under the new quarantine program have risen steadily since the program went into effect on June 30, 2003. The statistics were released as a new round of public hearings are scheduled for early November on additional proposed changes, one of which would make it easier for Hawaii pets to travel out of state and return.

There were 1,733 dogs and cats that arrived between July 1 and September 30, with an average of about 65 percent qualifying for the 5-day-or-less program. However, program statistics show a rising number of pets qualifying for the new program each subsequent month with 48 percent qualifying in July, 67 percent in August and 80 percent during the month of September. The three-month tally also indicated that 1,053 of the total 1,733 arriving pets (61 percent) were directly released at Honolulu International Airport, while an additional 56 pets were released within five days of arrival.

"The success of this new program is exceeding expectations," said Governor Linda Lingle. "To have 80 percent of pets qualify in such short a period is a testament to how effective the Department of Agriculture has been in getting the word out about the new rules. We're pleased that pet owners, including military families moving to the islands, are able to comply with the new rules with few inconveniences, and more importantly, minimal to zero time apart from their pets."

HDOA released the following quarantine statistics for cats and dogs arriving between July 1 and September 30, 2003:


Rabies Quarantine Statistics for First Three Months of 5-Day-or-Less Quarantine
  5-Day-or-Less Program 30-Day 120-day Total by Month
  Direct Release (Airport) Pets held 1 - 5 days      
July 2003 278 24 240 93 635
August 2003 366 20 120 67 573
September 2003 409 12 47 57 525
TOTAL by program 1,053 56 407 217 1,733


"Since the program began, the Animal Quarantine staff at both Halawa and the airport offices have been working hard to make the process as swift and efficient as possible," said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. "Airport inspectors report that most pets qualifying for direct release are now being processed within 20 to 30 minutes after they arrive at the quarantine holding facility, if owners have all the paperwork in order."

Under the 5-day-or-less program, pets may be released at Honolulu International Airport if they complete pre-arrival requirements, which include:

· 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 less than 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);

· Microchip implantation for identification purposes;

· Blood serum test results with sufficient level of rabies antibodies;

· 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.); and,

· Pet owners must also submit required paperwork more than 10 days prior to the pet's arrival.

Pet owners who do not submit the required documents prior to arrival will have their pets held in quarantine for five days or longer, until all required documents are submitted.

"Another interesting observation is that some of those pets that are being held between one and five days are being held in quarantine at the owner's preference while housing and other arrangements are being made and because most hotels do not allow pets," Kunimoto added.

The five-day-or-less quarantine program is a third option to the 30-day and the 120-day quarantine programs, which remain in effect for pets that do not qualify under the new rules. Fees for the five-day-or-less program are $165 if the pet qualifies for direct release from the airport and $224 if the pet must be held for up to five days in quarantine. The cost of the 30-day and the 120-day quarantine programs remains at $655 and $1,080, respectively.

Statewide public hearings have been scheduled on proposed changes that include a proposal to ease quarantine restrictions for animals originating in Hawaii by modifying the 120-day pre-arrival waiting period for pets residing in Hawaii that are traveling out of the State and returning. Other proposals include allowing pets to spend up to 30 days of the pre-arrival waiting period in quarantine until they qualify to enter under the 5-day-or-less quarantine program.

The hearings are scheduled as follows:

Maui - November 3rd, 1:30 p.m. at the Wailuku Community Center

Kauai - November 4th, 10:00 a.m. at the Lihue Office of HDOA

Kona - November 5th, 10:00 a.m. at the Kona Civic Center Conference Room

Hilo - November 6th, 9:00 a.m. State Office Building, Conference Rooms B & C, Hilo

Oahu - November 7th, 1:30 p.m. at HDOA Plant Quarantine Conference Room

Oral and written testimony will be accepted at the hearings. Interested parties may also submit written testimony to HDOA at 1428 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96814-2512 or e-mail to [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> (Please mark submissions as testimony). The full text of the proposed rules may be reviewed by accessing the HDOA website at: <> or in person at certain HDOA offices.

For more information on Hawaii's rabies quarantine programs, please go to the HDOA website at: <> An informational brochure, checklists, forms and "Frequently Asked Questions" are available on that webpage.


For more information, contact:

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