State of Hawaii

Animal quarantine law
under scrutiny

By B.J. Reyes
Associated Press

Pet owners joined Republican lawmakers yesterday in calling for an end to the state's pet quarantine law, which has been criticized as an emotional and financial burden for families moving to Hawaii with their beloved pets.

"We want to get rid of a very archaic and useless program," said state Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo). "Technology exists now where quarantine is obsolete and no longer needed."

Hemmings and state Reps. William Stonebraker (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai) and David Pendleton (R, Maunawili-Kaneohe) said they plan to introduce legislation during the session to end quarantine.

Hawaii's strict quarantine was imposed in 1912 to prevent rabid animals from entering the state. Revised rules adopted in 1997 call for a 90-day waiting period before arrival in Hawaii and 30 days of confinement once the animal is in Hawaii. The animal also must undergo two rabies vaccinations.

In addition to confinement, pet owners also have to pay for various tests and for their pets' stay at the state quarantine station.

"Today we have technology and modern vaccines that have virtually eliminated the threat of disease," Stonebraker said. "Times have changed, and it's time for the system to change."

State veterinarian Dr. James Foppoli said he disagrees with the contention that quarantine is unnecessary.

"In general, I think we need some regulatory program to ensure that animals coming into the state are properly vaccinated and tested and present minimal risk for introducing rabies to the state," he said.

This is not the first time the state's quarantine law has come under scrutiny.

Other proposals that have been introduced and studied include one to lessen a pet's confinement time to five days. Newly appointed state Agriculture Director Sandra Lee Kunimoto has said she will press for relaxing the quarantine restriction.

Legislation to do away with quarantine would be called "Ruby's Law," after a 3-year-old dog that died in quarantine last month, lawmakers said.

Ruby's owner, Susan Tartaglia, joined lawmakers yesterday in calling for an end to quarantine. She said she suspects her miniature pinscher died from ingesting pesticide at the quarantine station, but she is awaiting word from state officials on the exact cause of death.

Animal Quarantine information

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