Relocating Your Pet to Kauai

Small white poodle-like dog wearing a lei and dry grass skirt

Bringing Toto to Hawaii

Thinking about purchasing your dream home on Kauai or taking an extended vacation and exploring Kauai’s natural beauty? Does this sound appealing, but you can’t bear the thought of leaving your beloved dog or cat behind?

Not to worry—let me help make this a stress free experience for you and your family. All you need to do is make some advanced preparations to ensure your pet will qualify for direct release from the airport animal holding facility and into your loving arms.

The reason the rules are so strict is because Hawaii is rabies free, and the state is protecting its residents and pets from serious health problems associated with the spread of this disease. All dogs and cats, regardless of age, must comply. The law is strictly enforced and all conditions must be met.

Your veterinarian will be your partner in preparing your pet for entry to Hawaii by following these guidelines (as outlined by the State of Hawaii):

  1. First off you will need proof that your pet has been vaccinated for rabies twice in his lifetime, and that these vaccines were more than 30 days apart. Your pet’s first qualifying rabies vaccine most likely occurred when it was a puppy or a kitten; to complete the entry requirement, the second or most recent vaccine must be made at least 90 days prior to entry to Hawaii.
  2. You will need to get your dog or cat an electronic microchip implanted and then scanned by a vet to verify. This must be done prior to the OIE-FAVN Rabies Blood Test.
  3. A dated sample of your pet’s blood (taken via the OIE-FAVN Rabies Blood Test) must sent to the Kansas State University 120 days prior to traveling for rabies testing. This test is valid for 36 months.
  4. You must provide proof that your vet has applied a product that kills ticks and fleas no more than 14 days prior to arrival.
  5. Obtain a health certificate from your pet’s vet stating your pet is in good health, dated no more than 14 days prior to traveling.

Note: All documents must be originals completed by your pet’s vet with a complete history of qualifying vaccinations submitted to the Animal Quarantine Station at least 10-days prior to your arrival, along with all entry fees. If your pet is being transferred directly to Kauai or other outer island airport, the documentation must be submitted 30 days prior to your arrival. Send the documentation registered mail or 2nd day courier with a signature required for your protection.

In addition, some airlines may not be participating in the Kauai or other outer island dog and cat entry program. Check with your airline well in advance about participation on Kauai; a special reservation must be made for outer islands and an additional fee will be applied. Honolulu International Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility is open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, including weekends and holidays. If your pet is not transported to the holding facility by 4:30 he will not be released that day and be held overnight. The airline will directly transport your pet to the holding facility. Please check their hours as they may change.

Give yourself plenty of time. You will need to get started at the very least 4 months (120 days) prior to entry to Hawaii. If the waiting periods as outlined above are not met, your pet will be quarantined until the time periods are fulfilled. In addition to the anxiety this will cause you and your family, you will also be charged kennel fees while your pet is quarantined. There are no exceptions.

All these rules may change so I strongly urge you to visit the State of Hawaii quarantine website. This site will contain all the forms necessary for your pet’s successful entry to Hawaii. Additionally, there is a FAQ page and a checklist you can printout and provide to your pet’s vet to aid in this process.

While waiting for the time period requirements, it would be a good time to get your pet ready for the trip by purchasing a travel kennel. To condition your pet for the long trip ahead, let your pet sleep and eat inside the kennel a few hours each day so he can get accustomed to it. The proper type of kennel for airline flights should be ventilated on all four sides. Please buy a sturdy kennel with metal grate doors that is approved by the airline. These kennels are easily available at any pet store. Your dog or cat should be able to stand up and turn around in the kennel. There should be four inches of head room when your pet is standing in the kennel. Check with your airline to make sure of the requirements as they may differ from one airline to another.

Each airline offers a special area designed for live animals. It is pressurized and temperature controlled. Don’t worry, the area is dark and your pet most likely will be sleeping the entire trip. Pets are transported in temperature controlled vehicles from the cargo facility to the plane and back. They are transferred immediately from the van to the plane and from the plane to the van so it is only a matter of minutes that they are actually outside. Animals are the last ones on the plane and the first ones off at each destination. Drugging your pet is not allowed by the airlines, and the animal inspector will not let your pet board the flight if this is suspected.

As a pet lover that has successfully transported 3 dogs and 1 cat 5000 miles from JFK airport, I can tell you first hand that it all happens so quick, but as long as you are prepared and have all your documents in order, you will have an easy and stress free experience.

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4 Responses to “Relocating Your Pet to Kauai”

  1. Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)
    September 1, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Great post, Marisa, one that I will bookmark. We transported our dog, my parent’s cat and my horse from the East Coast to the Big Island without incident. Although our BIG dog did come busting out to play on the tarmac in Chicago when the baggage handlers opened the cargo door in transit, so be sure that kennel door is well secured!

  2. Lucy Adams
    December 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Thanks Marisa for this wonderful detailed summary regarding bringing pets into Hawaii. I am often asked that question and I really didn’t know that the quarantine requirements had been changed.

    This will be helpful to provide friends that consider making a move to Kauai as you have done the research for them. Mahalo. Lucy

  3. Edward Nista
    June 5, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Hello Marisa,

    I see that Kauai has a holding facility, so are we able to fly direct to Kauai with our puppy, otherwise with the 5 day or less program it seems we’ll need to stay in Honolulu for a few days before heading to Kauai? I am not clear.

    Thanks
    -Edward.

    • John Paine
      May 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      I also would like to know the answers to the question…………..JP

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