So, you have decided to come to Hawaii, eh?! Well, let me be the first to give you that warm Aloha welcome you have always heard about.
Kyson is the dog in the video, and he also extends his warmest Aloha
Guide Dog vs. Service Dog
This can be a really exciting time for you, but it can also be a very stressful time if you are traveling or moving to the islands from the mainland with a “Guide Dog,” “Service Dog,” or “Pet.” I want to be upfront, this blog will address the process of getting to the islands with a “Guide Dog” or a “Service Dog.”
So, to start out, let’s get the definition of these two types of dogs lined out:
“Guide Dog” refers to any dog that is trained by a licensed Guide Dog Trainer for guiding a person who fits the legal definition of blindness, by means of a harness and handle attached to the dog and handled by the person.
“Service Dog” (like my boy) refers to any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform some task to a person that they cannot do for themselves. The individual’s disability may be physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental incapacity. The work or task the dog performs must be directly related to the person’s disability and may include:
- assisting persons with low vision with navigation
- alerting persons who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
- assisting with the mobility of a wheelchair
- assisting a person before, during, or after a seizure
- providing physical support with balance and stability to persons with mobility disabilities
- helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by intervening during impulsive or destructive behavior
This list is by no means exhaustive, but you get the idea!
Kyson a few short hours after we landed on the Big Island
Furthermore, “Emotional Support Animals” do not qualify as service animals and will not be exempt from the process that pets have to follow to come to the island, which will mean a “5 day or less” program, or the evermore dreaded “120 day quarantine.”
Great! So, now that we have that out of the way, and you are here looking for the best, the easiest, the most relatable content on bringing your guide or service dog to the island, let’s get started!
Steps For Bringing a Service Pet to Hawaii
There are a number of steps you will have to follow to ensure a smooth move with your furry companion. I am going to outline the process for you and even give you a checklist with a timeline for you to follow!
Of course, there are checklists and such on the Dept. of Ag website, but navigating their website when you are already on my blog seems like it would take valuable time away from the million other things you have to be doing preparing for your move!
So, with that being said, here it goes!
As a service or guide dog, you still have a number of stipulations to adhere to. Gone are the days of boarding a plane with your service animal and flying where ever, whenever. But if you keep your eye on the prize…beaches, sunsets, mai tais…the process will be a blip in time in comparison to the end game.
1. Rabies Vaccinations
The dog must have current rabies vaccinations and it must be that the dog has had at least 2 vaccinations. Get the documentation from your vet. Believe it or not, you will not be the first person asking for this documentation, even if you live in a small town in the middle of Nowhere, Ohio, like we did.
At the time you ask for the documentation of your dog’s current rabies vaccination, be sure to ask them for:
- Product Name
- Lot or Serial Number
- Lot Expiration
This will all be documented on their end anyways, so don’t worry and wonder, “Ah, how the heck will I find the Lot#!?” Make sure that the vaccination is more than 90 days prior to your arrival if it is a young dog getting the vaccination for only the second time in their life.
2. Your Dog Must Be Microchipped
The process will not go any further if your dog is not chipped. If your dog is not chipped yet, do not fret, it is a simple shot in the nape of the neck that takes all of 10 seconds. Phew!
3. OIE-FAVN Test
Prior to arrival the dog will have to pass an OIE-FAVN test. What in the world is that, you might ask! Sounds scary, sounds complicated. How will my dog study to pass this test?! Namaste, my friends, this is simply an antibody count for rabies. It essentially measures the level of antibodies that your dog has built up in his system.
This test is valid for 3 years, so if you think you may be moving to Hawaii, but you are not sure when, go ahead and get this test done! It can take up to 6 weeks for the results, so it is better to prepare ahead of time than to wait and find that you have not given yourself ample time for this.
***Important Timeline Here: The sample must be received by the lab no more than 36 months prior to your arrival and no less than 120 days prior to your arrival. Be mindful of this timeline.***
Again, this is a test that you cannot forego. The DOA will not make any exceptions, even if your husband surprised you with a Hawaii dream home and one-way tickets next week and you cannot walk without your dog. So get prepared.
Once you have your vet do the blood draw, the sample will be sent to one of two labs in the country that handles this test. Mine was sent to the Kansas State University, I believe. Make sure you give your vet the contact info for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture so that they can have the testing site release your records to the DOA as soon as they have the results.
Information can be mailed to:
Animal Quarantine Station
99-951 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, HI. 96701
Or faxed to: 808.483.7161
4. Get a Standard Health Certificate For Your Dog
This certificate must not be dated more than 30 days prior to arrival. Actually, the health certificate must be within 14 days of your arrival. The certificate attests that the dog has been given Fipronil, or some equivalent, which is a long-acting product to kill ticks.
Again, the beautiful islands of Hawaii are free of a number of creatures that folks on the mainland are not so lucky to have crawling around their backyards, so in order to keep these unwanted critters out of Hawaii, these measures are put in place! Thank you Department of Agriculture for keeping Hawaii free of some dangerous and unwanted creatures.
5. Contact the Quarantine Branch Within 24 Hours Of Arrival
This step is easy to forget, but within 24 hours of your arrival you must let the Quarantine Branch know where you and your dog will be staying, living, camping, whatever have you, while you are on the island. Information can be faxed to: 808.483.7161.
Okay, almost done. I know the process is long and can get confusing, but just remember…beaches, sunsets, mai tais!
6. Arranged Examination
Qualified guide and service dog users must arrange for an examination to take place in the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility, or at the terminal if arriving between 8:00am and 4:00pm and given 7 days notice, for verification of compliance with all requirements and examination for external parasites.
If you follow the checklists and do your due diligence to ensure that you have completed all the requirements, and your furry friend is parasite-free (which he should be because he is getting that Fipronil that we talked about earlier!!!), then the dog will be released to you and voila! Welcome to Hawaii, person and person’s four-legged companion!
If a Neighbor Island (Not Oahu) is Your Final Destination
Note: If you are flying to a neighbor island, an island other than Oahu, directly from the mainland, then you will need to get a few more things before your arrival. Like scheduling a vet to meet you at the airport to do the examination. When scheduling this examination, be sure to ask the vet for any and all documentation that you will need from them in order to ensure the smooth arrival procedure you will be longing for after the 6+ hour flight from the mainland.
If your final destination is to a neighbor island, you’ll need a few more things before your arrival
For the Big Island, Kona Airport (KOA), I can recommend the vet that we used. She was absolutely wonderful. She was great in communicating with us from the moment of the first call all the way until she laid her eyes on my beautiful boy.
Kelly with Kona Vet Services
And there you have it! That’s all it takes. Sounds like a piece of cake, right!? No, but in all honesty, as long as you take the time to prepare for your arrival, it will be a flawless process. Again, you won’t be the first person going through this, and there are a number of contacts on the islands to help make your process easier for you if they can.
Don’t hesitate to email the DOA, don’t hesitate to call a vet on the islands, they have all dealt with this so many times that they know the process better than anyone! I can give you my first-hand account over and over and over again, and I can guarantee you your process will somehow, and in someway, be just a bit different than mine.
Now, I mentioned earlier that I was going to create a checklist for you at the bottom of this post. Just kidding. Well, not so much kidding, as re-thought the efficiency of that and decided it is better that I direct you to the checklist provided by the DOA. Don’t worry about the title, it is going to say Checklist For 5-Day-Or-Less Program.
The steps will essentially be the same for you, with little variation when it comes to the documentation process. The variation will occur when you, as the handler of the guide or service dog, does not have to follow crate rules for the airlines, and posting the documentation on the kennel etc. since the dog will be flying with you in-cabin.
Below you will find the links to the aforementioned sites and files:
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Animal Quarantine Station
99-951 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, Hawaii 96701-5602
Telephone: 808.483.7151 (Due to the heavy volume of calls, e-mail questions to the office for faster response.)
My favorite still from the video above!
It’s a Beautiful Day to Make Moves!
So with all of that, I will leave you to it. Don’t forget to check our website for current listings on the islands, and in the words of the great Derek Shepard, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives,” or in my case, I like to adapt that to say, “It’s a beautiful day to make moves!”
If you have any questions about traveling with your service or guide animal to Hawaii, or about Hawaii real estate opportunities, please contact us.
Until next time.