hike is unfair,
The fee for a 30-day pet quarantineBy Susan Kreifels
may jump from $290 for dogs and $275
for cats to $755 for both
Nearly tripling pet quarantine fees will give people another reason not to move to Hawaii, according to people who spoke against the fee proposal.
But the Board of Agriculture passed new fees yesterday with little comment.
"At a time when our state is losing so many of its residents to the mainland, let's not impose further barriers which may keep others from relocating here, especially when those barriers are so clearly unfair," said Pamela Burns, president of the Hawaiian Humane Society.
The fee for a 30-day pet quarantine will jump 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 will increase to $1,080.
The increase still must be approved by the governor. Quarantine is necessary to keep the state rabies-free, government officials say.
Funding changed from general to special funding, which means the quarantine station must generate enough revenue to cover its expenses.
Jim Foppoli, administrator for the Division of Animal Industry at the state Department of Agriculture, said the total number of animals coming to the station has increased. But there are only half the number of animals at the station at any given time.
Income is not meeting costs, despite cutting 10 full-time caretakers, he said.
The state shortened the stay from 120 days to 30 days for animals that meet quarantine requirements.
Annually, about 2,600 families bring in pets, with 40 percent of them from the military, Foppoli said. Some military families have complained about the fee increases.
Two people spoke against the proposal yesterday. Burns said the fee increases are unfair and create significant hardship for pet owners.
Some of the inequities Burns listed:
The state government subsidizes other services such as harbor fees, the A+ program and automobile registration fees.
"Why are you passing the entire cost off to users?" Burns asked, pointing out that dog owners already pay the county fees for dog licenses.
Other quarantined animals such as cattle and horses are initially inspected and treated for external parasites upon arrival to the state at no charge to the owner.
Board member Seiji Naya, who voted for the increases, said he believed the government should subsidize some of the cost through general funding.
Eve Anderson with Citizens for Quality Quarantine asked for an audit of the quarantine station, which she called inefficient, before fees are raised.
Anderson said quarantine users were afraid to speak up about complaints because they feared their "dog or cat will be harassed."
Foppoli said service at the station has improved in the last several years and that most comments from users thank the station rather than criticize it. He said Anderson's group wants to end quarantine.