PCS-ing to Hawaii with a Pet: Part 1
I’ve decided that while I wait in limbo for C’s orders to come in that I could still be blogging about other useful things… like how to PCS with a pet. In our case, that pet is Hobbes, who adopted us a year ago August 15th.
I’ve always lived in a home with multiple pets, but after seeing the checklist for the Hawaii 5 Day or Less Program I am SO thankful that we only have one fur baby at the moment. I didn’t know until I started researching our move that the Hawaiian Islands are rabies free, and they are scrupulous about keeping them that way. For anyone planning to import a domestic animal that translates into the lengthy to-do list you’ll find by clicking the above link.
That checklist, by the way, is your Holy Grail for getting your animal to Hawaii without having to pay out the nose or leave them in quarantine for 120 days. Yeah, you read that right. Download it, carry it around, and make sure that your vet has a copy too.
Here’s what you will need to do to move your pet, in a nutshell:
Call your vet TODAY and schedule an appointment. Do this for two reasons: 1) To make sure that your pet is current on all vaccinations, and 2) to map out a game plan for the rest of the program. #1 is especially important for the rabies vaccine, because your pet needs to have had TWO rabies shots in its lifetime in order to qualify for the 5-Day-or-Less program. That means if you have a puppy or kitten younger than 6 months, you probably won’t be eligible for the program and will need to quarantine your pet.
The reason for the 2 rabies shots is that your pet will need to have blood drawn for what is known as a rabies titer. Long story short– your vet draws the blood and sends it to a special lab in Kansas. That lab will test the blood sample to determine if your pet has a high enough level of rabies antibodies to be eligible for direct release on the island. They will forward the results directly to the quarantine center in Honolulu, and they will also notify your vet of the results. Generally speaking, 4-6 weeks need to have passed since the second shot for these levels to be high enough in your pet. I gambled a little and we drew the rabies titer on Hobbes 2 weeks after his second shot, and his results came back fine. I would say consult your vet, but if you are short on time you will probably be okay.
Here’s the most important thing: Your pet’s 120 day quarantine begins from the day they receive the sample in Kansas. So if you are leaving next month, your fur baby may still have to spend some quality time in the quarantine center. Start budgeting now if that is the case, because they charge you for food and lodging while your pet is there. On the flip side, don’t do it more than 120 days before you intend to land at HNL, because it will invalidate the results and you will have wasted your time and money.
Another VERY important tip: Get your vet to sign (in blue ink) on your pet’s rabies certificates, and make sure you know where the tags are. The State of Hawaii will NOT accept your pet without those signatures in blue ink. Picky, but crucial.
Now, what you are probably really wondering is how much all this will cost, right? Prices will vary from place to place, of course, but for us each rabies vaccine cost about $30, and to have the blood drawn cost $122 (that included the office visit, blood collection, and an overnight shipping fee because the sample has to be sent cold). Remember what I said earlier about not having to pay out the nose? Guess the guide can’t really help with that. I estimate that by the time all is said and done and we are FOG with Hobbes in our hands we will have spent at least $500 just getting him to our new home. Multiply that by each pet you have, and then probably round up. The things we do for our animals…
I am lucky to have found a wonderful vet here in Clarksville (shout out to the Family Pet Hospital!), and my vet not only printed out the 5-Day-or-Less program, but helped me go through it and figure out when each step needed to happen. There’s a lot of “do this not more than x days and not less than x days” language in the requirements, so go over it with them and get it all in your calendar. One less thing to worry about.
If your pet is already fixed and microchipped, you can skip this next part. If not, read on!
If your pet is not already spayed/neutered, I HIGHLY recommend that you do that. Not only does it protect your pets health and prevent future litters of unwanted animals, it is the perfect time to microchip your pet since they will already be under anesthesia. The microchip is a REQUIREMENT of the 5-Day-or-Less program, and a good idea regardless. It is so much easier to return a fur baby with a microchip, because they cannot lose it or have it removed like external ID. After it is implanted be sure that your vet scans the chip in front of you to make sure that it’s working, and then you can go online and input all of your info so that if Fluffy makes a run for it, you have a better chance of getting him/her back. It cost us $165 to have Hobbes neutered and microchipped, and it was worth every penny.
Soapbox time over.
I know this is getting long, so I’m going to wrap it up here– I’ll be back soon to talk about pet crates and traveling by air with your animal. Please feel free to email or leave a comment if you have any questions!