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Taking a Dog to Hawaii

Taking a Dog to Hawaii

Hawaii is often number one on people’s bucket lists. It is a popular destination for weddings, honeymoons and even family vacations. But if your furry family member is on the list of travelers, then study the subject of taking a dog to Hawaii seriously and well in advance.

If you’re talking about a cat or dog, it’s possible, but not at all easy. If you are talking about some other type of animal, it’s almost impossible. Hawaii has strict pet import requirements and there are valid reasons for that.

Hawaii is the Only State Without Rabies

3D medical animation still showing rabies virus with length of about 180 nm.
3D medical animation still showing rabies virus with length of about 180 nm. Photo from Wikipedia.

One of the reasons the guidelines are so strict is because of the predominance of rabies in many other areas of the world. Hawaii is one of the few places the disease hasn’t reached. And residents of Hawaii would like to keep it that way. 

A quarantine for imported animals was enacted in 1912. The restrictions have eased a bit in recent years, but are still rather strict for both out-of-state and residents of Hawaii.

However, if you are taking your pet to Hawaii by flying directly from places where rabies doesn’t exist, there will be fewer steps needed (including no rabies titer test). You can find out more details in this Checklist for pets arriving from British Isles, Australia, Guam and New Zealand.

A dog wearing sunglasses in Hawaii.
Photo by Mel Elías on Unsplash

Requirements for Bringing Your Dog to Hawaii 

The most common method of getting to Hawaii is by airplane. Hawaii requires a quarantine period for all animals brought into the state. The quarantine can last between 5 to 120 days, depending on if the owner pre-qualifies their pet for entrance four months in advance of their trip, as required. 

Honolulu has specific hours during which airports process pet imports. If your arrival is outside of that time frame, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., your dog will be held in a holding facility overnight. 

For these same strict security reasons, you should expect that your pup will likely need to be contained on the plane, as well.

People sitting inside the plane
Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

You will need to use airline approved carriers if you wish to travel with your tiny hound. The carrier ensures that your pet remains safe during their travels. Be sure to start crate-training your dog at least one month before the trip, if your dog hasn’t been trained.

Also, you should know that airlines are very strict about flying with dogs to Hawaii. It will depend on the breed, the size, the age of the dog, and the particular airline to determine whether or not you can fly with your dog.

Other requirements for taking pets to Hawaii include: 

  • Microchip – Before the trip to Hawaii, dogs must be microchipped with the owner’s identification information included.
  • Rabies Shot – Two original documentations of the rabies vaccination is required. At least 30 days before bringing your dog to Hawaii, the dog must have at least two prior rabies shots in their life.
  • Blood Test – The blood serum test is to check for rabies and other diseases. It must be done at least 120 days and no more than 36 months beforehand and the results emailed to the appropriate office. 
  • Health Certificate – Your dog’s primary veterinarian must fill out a certificate of health with proof of vaccinations and test results. All airlines in the United States require this measure, and it is necessary to present the certificate while checking in the dog. The form must arrive at least ten days before your dog enters Hawaii. However, it can’t be completed more than 14 days ahead of time. Processing fees must be paid when the form is submitted or the owner won’t be able to retrieve their pet from quarantine. 
  • Quarantine – If all of the pre-travel requirements are met, the pet may only need to be in quarantine for five days or less. Otherwise, the dog could spend up to 120 days in quarantine . The owners are financially responsible for the cost of quarantine. For five days, the fee is $224 as of the time of this writing. Check the government Animal Quarantine Information Page for up to date requirements, fees, forms and other materials.

Best Airlines for Taking a Dog to Hawaii

Unless you have time for a cruise that could take up to 14 days just to reach Hawaii, flying is the best option. However, not every airline flies to the Aloha state or allows pets on board. These pet-friendly airlines are your best bet.

Best Airlines for Taking a Dog to Hawaii: Dog on a plane 2D illustration.

Hawaiian Airlines

The Hawaiian airlines’ pet policy states that only pets flying out of Hawaii or between islands are allowed to fly in the cabin. All other pets (excluding service dogs) must fly in the cargo area due to Hawaii’s quarantine policy. 

American Airlines

American Airlines has restrictions on the breeds they allow on their flights. Check their pet policy to make sure taking your dog to Hawaii is possible with American. The airline doesn’t allow dogs to fly in the cabin. All connecting flights must connect in Honolulu if flying with a pet. 

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has a unique pet policy for travel to Hawaii. Pets are not allowed to travel cargo during the month of February. In addition, the airline doesn’t transfer pets to connecting flights. Rather, owners have to claim their pets and recheck them for the connecting flight.

Allegiant 

The Allegiant pet policy doesn’t specify instructions for taking a dog to Hawaii. However, it does state that only domestic pets are allowed in the cabin. It also states a health certificate to fly on the airline isn’t necessary. However, a health certificate is one of the requirements for importing dogs into Hawaii.

United 

The United pet policy notes that pets can’t fly in the cabin on flights to Hawaii. Instead, guests must use the company’s PetSafe. The pet transport program safely transports pets in the plane’s cargo hold. 

Taking a Dog to Hawaii is Not Possible with These Airlines

WestJet

The Westjet pet policy states that the airline doesn’t allow pets on flights to Hawaii. 

Southwest

Southwest recently began offering flights to Hawaii. However, their pet policy states that Southwest flights don’t transport pets to Hawaii.

Taking a dog to Hawaii is an expensive endeavor. If you’re visiting the islands for a short vacation, your dog may be happier at home. However, a permanent move to Hawaii may require traveling with your pooch.

Pit bull swimming at Ukumehame Beach Park
Pit bull swimming at Ukumehame Beach Park. Photo by BirdsEyePix

Strict Regulations Protect Hawaii’s Wildlife

You might think that Hawaii’s strict regulations on pet imports is over the top, but it’s important to residents of the state. Just as you want Fido to be safe, so too do they want to protect their wildlife and ecosystem from diseases common on the mainland, such as rabies.

It’s not impossible to bring your dog to Hawaii, but it is time-consuming and can get costly. For the health and safety of an entire state of people and animals, it’s worth it.

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