LIHUE >> Hawaii has revised its rules for the rabies quarantine program that aims to prevent the introduction of the virus into the state.
Gov. David Ige this week signed off on the revision, which reduces the waiting periods for pets complying with the 5 Day or Less Rabies Quarantine Program, The Garden Island reported. The new rules go into effect next week.
Under the program, pets must undergo rabies vaccinations and blood testing before arriving in Hawaii. Compliant pets are released at the airport upon arrival instead of being subjected to a 120-day quarantine.
The state previously required a 120-day wait after the blood antibody test and a 90-day wait from the last rabies vaccination before the pet arrived in Hawaii. Both waiting periods have been cut back to 30 days under the new rules.
“Many may not realize the importance of the quarantine program since we don’t have to worry about rabies because we live in the only state that is rabies-free,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the state Board of Agriculture. “Over the years, the Department of Agriculture has continuously considered ways to make the process less burdensome for pet owners, while preserving the integrity of the quarantine program.”
The state also requires pets to be microchipped, free of parasites and to have all the proper paperwork sent in before entering.
The state processed more than 16,500 dogs and cats entering Hawaii last year, according to the state Department of Agriculture. About 90 percent of the pets were eligible for release at the airport.
“It is vitally important that we protect our state from the introduction of rabies, not only for animal health, but human health,” Ige said. “These quarantine rule changes have been researched to maintain adequate safeguards to keep rabies and other tick-borne diseases out of Hawaii.”