Bringing Your Pet to the Big Island? Make Sure You Read This First!

Bringing Your Pet to the Big Island? Make Sure You Read This First!

  • Karen E. Bail
  • 02/25/22

So you’re moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i. 

It’s a pretty good decision, we’d say! (Sure, we might be a little biased, but still.)

But while it’s easy to say aloha to all the natural beauty that awaits you, it’s not so easy to relocate your life halfway across the Pacific. There are several significant details that will require your detailed attention—and that most certainly includes how to safety relocate your family’s pets to their new home!

While it’s not always easy to track all of the rules and regulations around doing so, take it from us: as is true for so many other thing in life: persistence, hard work, and attention to detail will win out in the end 🐶😺

First off…how come all the rules?!

Because the Big Island—and the state in general—is a unique and fragile ecosystem! The Big Island is, in fact, free of rabies and many other irritants currently endemic to the mainland and the world at-large, and we’d certainly like to keep it that way 🤙

According to the state website, “The rabies quarantine program was established in 1912 when the disease was declared endemic in the State of California, and it was feared that carnivorous animals imported from that state could transmit the disease to Hawaii. The program began as a 120-day quarantine and in 1997, a 30-day quarantine alternate program was approved (abolished in 2003).”

What are my options, exactly?

To begin with, there are basically three different options to choose from, depending on the circumstances of your travel and your animal:

The 5 Day Quarantine went into effect on June 30, 2003 and allows pets to be directly released at the airport if the pet owner follows strict procedures prior to the pet’s arrival in Hawai’i.  It takes at least four months to qualify an adult pet that has had at least one rabies vaccination, and at least 10 months to qualify a newborn puppy or kitten for this program.

While animals from the few other rabies-free countries in the world (such as New Zealand) don’t need to worry about it, pets and their owners from the mainland and most other countries will need to successfully meet all the requirements of their chosen program to proceed, be they returning travelers or first-time visitors. Thankfully, most of the process is fairly straightforward, so long as you stay on top of it. 

It’s also important to note that unfortunately not every animal is eligible for relocation into Hawai’i—be sure and click here to view the current list of conditionally approved animals to bring over with you, and click here to check out the list of prohibited species. 

Don’t worry, though: dogs and cats are most definitely conditionally approved for relocation…the key word being conditionally!

Make sure to do your homework and don’t delay

To be sure, bringing your pet to the Big Island requires quite a bit of legwork. It’s best to start the process at least 4-5 months prior to your planned arrival. 

For example, dogs and cats who qualify for the direct release program will have to successfully complete the following: 

  • 2 rabies vaccinations at least 30 days apart (and the second rabies vaccination must be given at least 30 days prior to arrival on island)
  • Your pet must pass a blood test that shows a response to the rabies vaccine at least 30 days prior to arrival.
  • You must microchip your pet
  • Puppies and kittens must be at least 12 weeks old before arrival

If your animal does not successfully meet all the above approved criteria, they will then have to be quarantined for 120 days with the state—an expense that you will have to pay for. 

Prepare for expenditures and make sure to ask questions

Indeed, like most things relocation-related, there are expenditures to consider, be they preventative (such as in the example of the direct release program) or in having to pay the state to house and shelter your animal for a 4-month quarantine. 

If you’re in need of clarification or assistance with any facet of the program, don’t hesitate to reach out to the state to ask questions—it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Remember: good things come to those who wait—but better things come to those who prepare early and often! 🐕🐈

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Karen provides the most current and accurate market information, tapping into her vast network of industry professionals. She continually draws from her extensive marketing experience to offer creative marketing strategies and produce impeccably high-quality marketing materials.