Monday, April 20, 2015

Quarantine in Hawaii (Not Fun for Fido!)

If you live in Hawaii, quarantine may not affect you too much. But if you want to move to Hawaii or vacation with your pet in Waikiki, you will hit your head on the big rock wall called Quarantine. Hawaii has no cases of rabies and wants to keep it that way by quarantining all our furry friends.

Also, all insects, animals and other living matter (plants, flowers, seeds, etc.) must be declared when entering the state, kind of like a customs declaration. I've decided to write about Hawaii's agricultural import laws in a future post, and focus only on quarantine.

For pet owners, quarantine is a challenge that has become so much easier in recent years.

In the old days, quarantine took 90 days! My two cats had to be quarantined for 3 months. I don’t have the records of the airline flight costs, the veterinary bills and the quarantine bills, but it was easily over $2000.  Once a week, my boyfriend and I drove to Halawa to visit our jailed cats. Halawa also has a correctional facility for humans, so it always felt like a visit to the prison.

In the old days, if you were moving to a neighbor island, instead of the main island of Oahu, your pets were still quarantined on Oahu, so unless you had lots of money to fly back and forth, you couldn’t visit them very often.

Nowadays, quarantine laws have reduced the time to about 5 days. Lots of preparation still has to be made ahead of time, vet visits, shots, forms, and tickets for your pets.

A friend of mine who was thinking of housesitting for us wanted to bring her dog on vacation. Some people don’t want to travel without their pets, and she claimed this dog was a service dog. Nowadays, I’ve heard people try to claim any dog as a service dog, even if the dog is blind and deaf. 

The long answer is yes, you can bring your dog or cat with you on vacation, IF you have lots of money, prepare in advance, and can find a place that will house your pet. GOOD LUCK!

The even longer answer, is it’s not worth the bother. I asked another friend who lives here part time and brings her Siberian huskies back and forth to Maui each year. Here is her answer, copied out of my email (SKIM THIS unless you are very interested in bringing your pet to Hawaii):

"Service dogs are NOT exempt from HI quarantine laws. Although, service dogs are exempt from airlines who say they will not bring general dogs into HI. If an airline accepts an animal that does not met all the HI import requirements, the airlines is fined $5K so some airlines will try and refuse dogs.

Bringing dogs into Hawaii have two parts with different requirements and fees (HI Agricultural and individual airlines) besides working with vets and their costs at each side (except no extra vet charge if going directly to the Oahu Main Ag Station).  

The first time is fairly expensive and then you go on a 3 year “re-entry program” like I do which brings the annual travel cost down. To bring a dog over for one vacation is hardly worth the expense and trouble unless you have lots of time and money or are blind, deaf, or have seizures and truly need that service dog.

Your friend or their vet will be looking at the “5 day or less program.” Then call the airlines for their requirements and costs.

Basically the vet draws blood to test rabies titer levels following the correct vaccine protocol which must be received by the testing lab 4 months prior to travel. The results are sent directly to the HI Agricultural quarantine office. Import documents with fees are mailed within another time frame to HI. Then within 10 days of travel to or from you have to get a vet issued State Health Certificate. 

If you are flying directly to an island other than Oahu, (like I do when flying to Maui) you are required to have a vet meet the dog and do an exam (this is another first time fee, discounted on other trips). With all that done in advance and paid for, it only takes about an hour to go through quarantine once you and the dog land."

Here's another helpful and informative quarantine post by the Betsills.

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts.

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt.

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May!


  1. My husband and I moved to Maui in January from Texas with four pets. We spent $2790.13 for the direct release program on vet bills, permitting, travel kennels, airfare, etc. We drove to San Diego to fly out of the airport there on Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines is the only airline that allowed our pets to be in the cabin on flights to Hawaii, which saved us from having to book multiple flights to get each pet there due to the restrictions on how many animals are allowed in the bulk head during winter (most airlines it's only one). A vet met us at OGG airport when we arrived and signed off on the animals paperwork and we were able to leave with them to our new home immediately. It was a lot of work, but moving is stressful enough on our furbabies that the direct release was the way to go.
    I made a post about it (

  2. Great post! I'm going to move it up too into the body of the blog post. I just talked w/ friends last night who brought 3 cats to Maui. They didn't have enough time to do the 4 month quarantine in CA so had to do it in Hawaii. They could have done it on Maui at a private vet's clinic, but would have cost $5000-7000 per cat! On Oahu, the quarantine cost about $1100 for 4 months per cat.


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