A guide with printable checklist down below ↓
This was one of the biggest headaches..
I encountered throughout my transition to Oahu was seeing how in the world I would get my THREE DOGS here!!
Before I get started on talking about bringing your pets, here is a list of pets that are barred from even entering the state of Hawaii. Please be advised, even ‘exotic’ dog and cat breeds like wolf-dogs or Bengals are restricted here so definitely check with Hawaii’s state laws! And even if your dog/cat isn’t a banned breed, airlines have recently banned many breeds of dogs and cats from flying due to respiratory issues. Breeds like Boxers, American Terriers, and even cat breeds like the Himalayan cat are on the ‘no fly list’ due to their short noses. However certain airlines will still accept these breeds, read more to find out!
First, make sure your pet is registered on post with all updated vaccines and 2 prior Rabies vaccinations at least 30 days apart in the original blue ink from the vet (yes, they will require original copies) as required by Hawaii. To start the quarantine process you’ll need
- FAVN rabies test (30 days prior to arrival)
- Health Certificate from your vet (10 days prior)
- aqs-279 import form found here
Also, keep in mind if the quarantine office receives any documents later than 10 days in advanced the airport release charge is dramatically higher. Currently, the rate is $185 for direct airport release (which is refundable at your duty station’s Finance Office) but if it’s later than 10 days the charge is
$244 per pet released.
Hawaii is a rabies free state so part of the process prior to flying is attaining a FAVN rabies test with a minimum 30 day waiting period.
Now, this is where the process becomes tricky. You’ll need to coordinate when to fly your pet and how much each option will cost. Do you want your pet to stay in a pet hotel prior? Can someone fly your pet to the island when you are ready? Can you cover the costs of airfare? Do you want to pay extra and just have you pet sit in the quarantine office?
First, call the airlines to check if your pet is able to fly since their crating policies differ by size and weight. Keep in mind that if you have a particularly large breed like a Great Dane most airlines do not fly them! Also check what temperatures that they do not fly pets in. Most airlines refuse to fly crated pets below 45˚ and over 85˚ since cargo areas will experience outdoor weather. Another thing to consider is that many airline rates change depending on if the receiver or shipper is the one shipping the pet.
Tip for 'snubbed nose' dog/cat breed owners: The only airlines that even consider flying these breeds are Hawaiian, Island Pet Movers, and Pacific Air Cargo.
Tip for PCS moves: Ask for military rates for flying pets. And on a personal note, I found Alaskan Airlines had the best rate. For military members who register their pet with a CAC card are given a flat rate of $150 per pet!
Receiving Your Pet
Another thing I want to mention is finding the quarantine office at the airport is a little tricky to find. Between Terminal 1 and 2. There’s an option to go straight through at the bend between the terminals which leads you out from under the 2nd floor of the airport to an area of grey buildings. Off to the left is a small sign on the grey buildings stating “Animal Quarantine Station”.
Tip for PCS moves: Keep your receipt from the Quarantine office! Quarantine fee $185 per pet for release and the Finance Office will reimburse you.
One of the major considerations with pets is deciding to live on or off post. Many rental properties do not allow pets or only consider smaller animals. When looking for rental properties I would say about 80% of the housing we were looking at did not allow dogs. One of the reasons I believe that it’s terribly high is a cultural phenomenon. If you are meeting with local homeowners, you’ll nearly always be asked to take off your shoes before entering with most places having a cubby for them.
Registering Your Pet with Local Authorities
This step isn’t mandatory by any means but registering your pet by microchip number will definitely help if your pet becomes lost. For me personally, I thought my dogs would never try to escape but this became a major issue since my dogs were more stressed out from the move and my time at home lessened. So keep in that in mind when you have established your living situation.
- Please be careful about allowing your pet to drink standing water. Here in Hawaii, the fecal contaminates of other creatures such as mongooses cause Leptospirosis. Although the vaccine is recommended, it’s not mandatory for getting on the island.
- Watch out for what’s in your backyard. I understand coming from a different climate and not realizing there are different hazards here when it comes to your pet. One the biggest poisons to dogs is snail pesticides and also frogs can make your dog extremely sick.
Recently I took my sick dog to the vet’s office and the first thing they asked was if I was using chemicals in the yard, snail pesticides in particular. Oddly enough, when I mentioned that my dogs chase around lizards and sniff cockroaches they said cockroaches were probably the cleanest creature they could come into contact with.
- Please look out for signs of stress from your dog after the move. Even with us having many dogs to keep each other entertained and happy, it took them a couple months to shake out of it. During that time my dogs began to dig everywhere, tried to escape, tear up the trash and just overall more emotional. My dogs are the type that you can leave the front door open for hours without them ever leaving so these acts were so bazaar and frustrating; it definitely was hard not to get mad at them for being stressed out.
- Lastly, many people here do have an active lifestyle and you will run into people walking or hiking with their dogs so if you have difficulties with monitoring your dog, please be advised.