Traveling with a Service Dog to Hawaii

Q. I’m a wheelchair user and have a service dog. I’m planning a two-week vacation in Hawaii. I understand Hawaii has mandatory quarantine period for dogs and cats flying in from the mainland. I’ve heard that this is waived for service dogs, but they must enter through Honolulu. I have a direct flight to Kona. Do I need to re-book my flight through Honolulu? And what kind of paperwork do I need to bring?

A. There has never been a case of rabies on the Hawaiian Islands. To keep it this way, all dogs (and cats) entering Hawaii must be quarantined for a period ranging from five days to 120 days (depending on paperwork and vaccination status) to make sure they don’t have rabies.

However, with the proper vaccinations, paperwork and advance planning, Hawaii waives the quarantine period for service dogs and guide dogs. Emotional support dogs do not qualify. It is important to be sure to meet all the requirements in advance, or your service dog will be spending the vacation in a Hawaiian K9 quarantine kennel.

The friendly, helpful people I spoke with people at Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Animal Quarantine Station explained the steps you and your service dog need to take to enter the Hawaiian Islands without quarantine. The people I spoke with said that it is good to give yourself and your dog plenty of time to do this process — several months out is a good time to start.

• The dog must have an electronic microchip implanted for identification.

• The dog must have a current rabies vaccination. (Documentation of the vaccination must include the product name, the lot or serial number, and the expiration date of the lot.)

• Prior to arrival, the dog must have passed one OIE-FAVN test (a blood test for rabies antibodies) after 12 months of age, with a level of 0.5 I.U. rabies antibody or greater. The laboratory will not perform the tests unless the microchip number accompanies the test request form. A passing test result is valid for three years.

• The dog must have a standard health certificate issued not more than 30 days prior to arrival in Hawaii. However, the state also requires a veterinarian’s certificate stating that the dog was treated within 14 days of arrival with a product containing Fipronil or an equivalent long-acting product labeled to kill ticks. The most efficient way to do this is make a vet appointment within 14 days for both the health exam certificate and the tick treatment, rather than have to make two trips. The certificate must also confirm that the Microchip has been scanned and is in good working order.

• For a service dog, you must provide a physician’s statement that certifies the user is disabled and the service dog is required because of the user’s disability (OR a certificate of training of the service dog by a training program accredited by Assistance Dogs International, Inc., or a service dog training program with equally rigorous administrative, operational and training standards); and what tasks the animal has been trained to perform.

• Make copies of all required documents to bring with you to the airport.

• Send all documents, with original signatures to the Rabies Quarantine Branch well ahead of your intended arrival date. Information can be mailed to the Animal Quarantine Station, 99-951 Halawa Valley Street, Aiea, HI 96701 or faxed to 808/483-7161. Staff may be contacted by telephone 808/ 483-7151 or 808/837-8092 or via e-mail at rabiesfree@hawaii.gov to assist you with preparations.

• Seven days or more before arriving, service dog users need to request inspection in the terminal at Honolulu International Airport between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., (because it generally takes an hour to go through inspection, it is recommended that your flight arrive by 3 p.m.) by notifying the Rabies Quarantine Branch via phone, fax or e-mail. In these cases, a “Notice of Terminal Inspection” with tracking number will be issued and sent to you. To avoid confusion and delays, this notice must be presented to airline representatives upon arrival in Hawaii. The people at Hawaii Animal Quarantine Holding said you can call and request an inspection during non-inspection hours if your flight is arriving later than 3 p.m.

• The Rabies Quarantine Branch must receive notification at least 24 hours in advance of arrival information and location where the dog will be staying. Information can be faxed to 808/483-7161.

• Upon arrival in Hawaii, the dog must be brought by the airline to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility for verification of compliance with the above requirements and examination of the dog for external parasites. After inspection, if all is in order, your dog will be released, and you are ready for vacation.

• If you are flying directly to another island you must call, fax or e-mail Hawaii Department of Agriculture Animal Quarantine Station and request to have an inspector meet your plane. This may be done by the local branch of the Humane Society or a vet. If the inspection is done by a vet, there may be a charge, which you can ask about in advance.

Again, be sure to bring all of documents with you the day you travel. You will need to present them to the airline agent at check-in.

For more information, visit: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/aqs/guide-service-dogs-entering-hawai-i

Enjoy the Hawaiian Islands with your service dog!

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