Moving to Hawaii With a Pet: Don't Skip These Essential Steps

Prepping for a move, whether it's across town or across the country, can be a difficult and stressful time for anyone. When a pet is added to the equation, stress levels can double--for you and your pet.
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Prepping for a move, whether it's across town or across the country, can be a difficult and stressful time for anyone. When a pet is added to the equation, stress levels can double--for you and your pet. Add to all of this the monumental task of transitioning to island life--and all the regulations that must be abided--and you've got a Molotov cocktail of anxiety daunting enough to make anyone think they are going crazy.

Taking simple precautionary measures and having a game plan can ensure a smooth move for everyone. Breaking your move down into three parts--before, during, and after--will ease the preparation process. When considering a move to Hawaii, the most emphasis should be placed on the "before."

Once you are certain you will be moving to Hawaii, it is important to check the Hawaii Department of Agriculture website immediately for any updates to their animal importation laws.

Hawaii has strict laws regarding the importation of animals. Some animals that may be allowed as pets in other states or countries may be restricted or prohibited in Hawaii. Importing an illegal animal carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and fines up to $500,000.

Following these steps will qualify your pet for the 5-Day-or-Less Program and Direct Release, which ensures the family pet stays within the home and with the family throughout the entire process. Failure to comply with these regulations ensures your family's pet a direct ticket to quarantine upon arrival.

Hawaii is a rabies-free state, so your pet must have two rabies shots 30 days apart and the last rabies must be completed more than 90 days prior to arrival.

All animals must have a microchip implanted prior to the administration of the rabies blood test. Be sure your veterinarian scans the implanted microchip and gives you proper verification that it works. If a pet cannot be identified by scanning their microchip, it will undergo the full 120-day quarantine.

Any animal coming to Hawaii must have an OIE-Favn rabies blood test. This test cannot be more than three years old, but must have been drawn at least 120 days prior to arrival in Hawaii.

It is important to note that due to the minimum amount of time needed to prepare a puppy or kitten to meet the requirements of the 5-Day-or-Less program, a pet will be nearly 10 months of age by the time all preparations are completed. Puppies and kittens not able to meet all of the requirements will be quarantined for 120 days.

Be sure to obtain original copies of vaccine documentation, blood test results, original health certificate and fee payments. For more information or further clarification, please visit this helpful resource site: Pet Relocation-Hawaii.

All ready to fly? Many airlines have specific pet programs for flying pets, with specific guidelines regarding breeds, crate sizes and other important information. Check with your airline no less than 30 days prior to your travel date to verify all tickets. Keep in mind that just like you, your dog will want to have a snack--or two--mid-flight!

Please remember that these regulations are subject to change and, therefore, it is extremely important you check the D.O.A. website for updates.

In addition to the agricultural prep, there are a couple standard reminders you might consider. You will want to make sure you do a last minute check-up with your existing veterinarian to obtain medical records and fill any empty prescriptions. This is especially useful if you have an aging pet that requires daily medication. Having all of this information and certain supplies all in one easy-to-locate place, like a marked box or tote bag, will dissipate any added hassle when it comes time to unpack at your new island location. In addition, keeping Fido or Fifi's collar and tags updated with current contact information is a must. Accidents sometimes happen and ensuring your pet's I.D. tag has a phone number where you can be reached is vital during this process. The last thing you would want in the midst of moving is a lost pet wearing I.D. tags with a disconnected phone number.

Packing up an entire house is stressful for everyone--including your pet--so be sure to remember this during the process. Fido/FiFi will be left wondering why everything is going away and if he or she may be next. Allowing your pet to be part of this progression as much as possible fosters a gradual adjustment. Remaining calm, versus aggressive, helps your dog keep a sane mindset. If you're acting as normal as possible, they will, too.

When you've finally made it to your new home, you'll probably feel overwhelmed with the daunting task of unpacking and maneuvering a new city. Your pet will feel the same way--except without the voice to explain his or her feelings! Follow the last to leave and first to arrive concept by letting your pet check out his or her new space first. Let them walk around outside, sniff until their heart is content, and bring them inside first to explore their new surroundings. Bringing in their items first also signals that this is their new residence, it is safe and everything will be okay. This is a critical step in the adjustment process for your pet, as it is likely you may need to confine them while you are moving boxes and furniture in and out of the new house. The worst-case scenario would be your beloved furry friend getting out of the house, scared and lost, as you move in. Help ease their anxiety by using a baby gate to keep them at bay in a nearby room instead of locking a door and be sure to check in on them every so often to make sure they are doing okay. Additionally, adding toys and bedding and/or their crate with familiar scents will add comfort in their initial adjustment process.

Moving with a pet may seem like you're trying to juggle many things and all of them keep dropping on the floor, but it doesn't have to be that way and there is no reason for added stress--on either of your behalf! Making a clear and concise plan with a timeline allows a seamless packing, moving, and adjustment period for the whole family.

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