Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Ship’s dog doesn’t qualify
for reduced quarantine

Question: Why must Hok Get be quarantined for the full 120 days? If I'm not mistaken, there was a time when, if proof was provided that a dog had received anti-rabies inoculation before coming to Hawaii, that dog qualified for a reduced quarantine period. Is this policy still in effect? If so, wouldn't Hok Get, living on board a ship for over two years in, I'm, assuming, a rabies-free environment, qualify for a reduction in the quarantine period?

Answer: Hok Get, the sea dog who captured the attention of the world after being left behind on an abandoned oil tanker for more than three weeks, must bide her time in quarantine for the full animal quarantine period of 120 days, or until Aug. 30.

But anything should be better than being aboard a burnt-out ship with no one but a dead crewman.

The main reason there's no leeway in reducing the quarantine period is the state law regarding the importation of dogs and cats into Hawaii, explained Dr. Isaac Maeda, a veterinarian and manager of the state Animal Quarantine Branch.

That law exempts animals from the strict quarantine law only if they are coming from three areas -- Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand --and only under specific circumstances, he said.

Maeda also noted that time on a boat doesn't count toward calculating a quarantine period. Also, "there's no way of verifying, even though everybody says this dog has been on a boat for two years, where that boat has been into port, because it's been into port, and whether or not other animals have come into contact with it," he said. "That's the whole problem."

Regarding the quarantine period, there are two options: the standard, 120-day quarantine and a reduced 30-day option. In the past, there was only the 120-day quarantine available. Owners who meet strict requirements for inoculation and testing of their animals now may qualify for the reduced option.


On Saturday, April 13, during a run/walk in upper Pearl City, a woman walked by my yard with a big black poi dog on a leash. My little 4-pound miniature dog ran out to the sidewalk to bark at her dog. Before I could grab him, her dog grabbed him and shook him like a little rag doll, breaking his neck. She screamed, "There's a leash law," but didn't seem to know how to handle her dog in this type of situation. After her dog dropped my dog, she just left without saying a word, as if nothing had happened. She was walking with a friend who had a pit bulldog. I know my little dog was "guilty," but how she could just walk away, I don't understand. -- Heartbroken

WITHOUT knowing both sides of the story, the Hawaiian Humane Society declined to comment on the incident, specifically on whether it made a difference that the attacking dog was on a leash when your dog approached.

"This is a very sad situation and we extend our sympathy to the owner of the little dog, and understand how distressed she must feel," said HHS spokeswoman Eve Holt.

However, she added, "Pet owners must be responsible for their dogs and if they cause injury, the owner is responsible."

Anyone who has been injured by a dog or had their pet injured can seek recourse through civil court or Honolulu's dangerous dog law, which took effect last July 1, Holt said.

Under that law, if a dog bites or harms a person or domestic animal, the owner may be required to appear in court. The court will determine any fines, whether the dog is dangerous and what steps the owner must take to prevent further problems, including such possibilities as spaying or neutering, obedience training, wearing a muzzle, etc.

The dog's owner may get a $2,000 fine and 30 days in jail.

Although it would have been best to report the attack immediately to police or the HHS, Holt said you can still call the society at 946-2187, ext. 280, to make a report.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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