Tuesday, March 9, 1999

Arriving pets
face quarantine
fee hike

A 30-day stay for a cat or
dog would soar from
$290 to $755

Hawaii Revised Statutes

By Susan Kreifels


Jill Eastman and her 4-year-old son, begrudgingly accepting a 30-day pet quarantine here, can't wait for their golden retriever "Buster" to arrive this June from Georgia.

But learning that the cost of Buster's stay could almost triple enrages Eastman.

"This is ripping us off," she said yesterday at the Halawa quarantine center. She can't understand how daily feeding and cage-cleaning for a month could possibly cost $755. But she has no choice.

"My 4-year-old loves his pet," she said. "They know people will continue to pay."

The state Department of Agriculture is holding public hearings on proposed changes that would raise the cost of pet quarantine, required to keep the state rabies-free. That's because its funding has changed from general to special funding, which means the quarantine station must generate enough revenue to cover its expenses.

Ann Takiguchi, Agriculture Department spokeswoman, said reducing the stay from 120 days to 30 days for animals that meet quarantine requirements has produced a 23 percent increase in the number of animals. But the shorter stays -- taken by 75 percent of pets -- haven't created sufficient income to cover costs.

Takiguchi said raising fees was the only option. "Cutting costs could hurt the quality of the facility," she said.

The fees for a 30-day stay would increase from $290 for dogs and $275 for cats to $755 for both. For 120-day stays, the dog fee of $875 and cat fee of $815 would jump to $1,080.

With other new costs added, Eastman said the total 30-day stay for her dog would reach about $1,000, up from the $290 she expected to pay.

Keith and Sandi Heckman, who also moved here with the military, were upset: the time and money required to get their cat "Murphy" into Hawaii, the fact that the military wouldn't pay, and what they considered far-too-high costs for something the state forced upon them. "I'd like to see where all this money goes," Keith Heckman said.

The Heckmans and Eastman all said they wanted to attend hearings.

On the other hand, Dusty and Lara Rhodes think Hawaii is a bargain compared with Guam, where they're headed with the Navy. They stopped en route to put their cat and dog through quarantine here so that could be omitted on Guam. There it would have cost $2,500 for both pets, much more than in Hawaii. And both animals would have had to stay in quarantine 120 days.

"We are pleased," Dusty Rhodes said. "We'll pay it."


Pet owners, others
can discuss costs

Department of Agriculture hearings on proposed increases in quarantine fees:

bullet Friday: 1 p.m., department conference room, 4398A Pua Loke St., Lihue

bullet Monday: 7 p.m., State Office Building conference room, 75 Aupuni St., Hilo

bullet March 16: 7 p.m., Civic Center conference room, 82-6130 Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook, Big Island

bullet March 17: 7 p.m., department conference room, 635 Mua St., Kahului

bullet March 19: 7 p.m., Department of Agriculture, Hale Waiolama Building, 1428 S. King St.

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