News Release – NR07-18 – September 7, 2007

Posted on Sep 7, 2007 in 2007 News Releases, News-Releases

HONOLULU — The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has implemented a program to allow qualified dogs and cats to enter Hawai`i through neighbor island airports on Kaua`i, Maui and in Kona, if owners comply with additional requirements for the Five-Day-or-Less rabies quarantine program. The announcement coincides with the inaugural World Rabies Day, September 8, which aims to increase awareness about the worldwide rabies crisis and the importance of rabies prevention. Hawai`i is one of the few places in the world that is rabies-free and the rabies quarantine program is an important safeguard that protects the state’s residents and animals.

“Establishing the protocol for neighbor island releases has been an important focus since the Five-Day-or-Less quarantine program went into effect on O`ahu in June 2003,” said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “The driving force has been the program’s commitment to continuously improve the quarantine program, while protecting Hawai`i from rabies.”

Establishing the neighbor island release program was challenging due to the lack of animal holding facilities on the neighbor islands, no state animal inspectors on neighbor islands and difficulties in finding private veterinarians to participate in the program. As a solution, HDOA has contracted with South Shore Veterinary Care and the Maui Humane Society on Maui, Kona Veterinary Service in Kona and the Kaua`i Humane Society on Kaua`i to conduct the entry inspections for arriving pets.

Pets arriving at neighbor island airports must have a special Neighbor Island Inspection Permit in addition to the other requirements. Without the neighbor island permit, pets will be sent to Honolulu for inspection or returned to the point of origin at the owner’s expense. The pet owner is responsible for making arrangements with the neighbor island veterinarians and for the fees to the veterinarian. A checklist is available on the department’s web site that outlines the requirements for neighbor island releases. Pet owners are advised to check with their airline as all carriers may not be participating in flying dogs and cats to islands other than O`ahu.

The Five-Day-or-Less rabies quarantine program was implemented by the Lingle-Aiona Administration in June 2003, with modifications in February 2004 and October 2005. Since its implementation, the number of dogs and cats imported into the state has increased about 85 percent. Quarantine statistics show that during Fiscal Year 2007, a total of 8,804 dogs and cats entered the state, compared to Fiscal Year 2003 when a total of 4,771 dogs and cats were imported to Hawai`i. Approximately 83 percent of all dogs and cats arriving at Honolulu International Airport have qualified for direct release.

Under the Five-Day-or-Less program, pets may be released at Honolulu International Airport if they complete all the pre-arrival requirements, which include:

· Two rabies vaccinations, with the last vaccination administered no more than one year prior to arrival if it was a one-year licensed vaccine, or no more than three years 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 most recent 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 (OIE-FAVN) rabies test results with > 0.5 U/mil 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 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.)

· Health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian no more than 14 days before arriving in Hawaii indicating the pet is not showing signs of infectious or contagious disease and was treated for external parasites with fipronil or product with similar residual activity; and,

· Required paperwork must be received more than 10 days prior to the pet’s arrival.

For pets to be released on Maui and Kaua‘i and in Kona, additional requirements include:

· Required paperwork must be submitted 30 days or more prior to the pet’s arrival, including a letter
from the owner requesting neighbor island release and flight information;

· The pet owner must make arrangements with the neighbor island veterinarian for inspection; and

· The Neighbor Island Inspection Permit must accompany the pet upon arrival.

To view the entire Checklist for Requesting Direct Airport Release at Kona, Kahului and Lihue Airports, click here.

For more information on Hawai`i’s rabies quarantine programs, click here. An informational brochure, checklists, forms and “Frequently Asked Questions” are available on that web page.


Related websites:

Hawaii Department of Health:

World Rabies Day website:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:

American Veterinary Medical Association: