Saturday, March 20, 1999

Pet owners howl
at proposed fees

Quarantine rates would
more than double for a 30-day
stay, to over $800

By Harold Morse


Military personnel and others are objecting to substantial fee hikes being proposed to keep dogs and cats at the animal quarantine station for mandatory periods.

Of some 75 people who jammed a state Department of Agriculture meeting room last night, none indicated support for the proposed increases, which could come as early as June if approved by the Board of Agriculture.

A 30-day stay now costs $290 for a dog and $275 for a cat. The hike would boost the fee to $755 each. For 120-day stays -- required if animals lack up-to-date shot records and other items -- the $875 dog fee and $815 cat fee would go to $1,080 each.

Many of those testifying called for the quarantine station to open its books to justify hiking rates. The state Legislature cut general fund appropriations last year, leaving the station dependent on fees from pet owners.

Col. K.C. McClain, Pacific Command director of personnel, said about 40 percent of the dogs and cats quarantined belong to armed forces members. About one-third of the 43,000 active duty personnel here rotate each year, she said.

With recruitment and retention constant concerns, factors such as moving costs and the need to take family pets or give them away tend to push service members back to civilian life, McClain said.

"We ask that the fee increase be held in abeyance," she said.

Alan S. Lloyd of the Navy League called the fee hikes unacceptable, and Kaneohe Marine Sgt. Jon Jerome said they would mean junior service members would either have to drop a month's pay or part with a beloved pet.

Doug Holl, a Pearl Harbor chief petty officer, thought the 30-day fee hike would hit those paying it with an unfair proportion of program costs.

Mike Solomon, president of the Hawaii chapter of the Air Force Association, said the state needs to give a fuller explanation as to why it is proposing such high fees.

"We do not want an unreasonable pet quarantine fee added to their (service members') reasons for not taking an assignment here," he said.

Civilians also objected. Pamela Burns of the Hawaiian Human Society described the proposed fees as "prohibitively high" and asked that they not be initiated.

Eve Anderson of Citizens for Quality Quarantine called for financial and management audits of quarantine operations, along with regular reports.

Will Anzenberger, a University of Hawaii faculty member, noted that people with pets that qualify for the 30-day stay would pay a higher percentage rate hike.

"I urge you to stay these fee increases," he said.

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