10 Tips for Bringing a Pet to Hawaii

by Guest Blogger Theresa Donnelly
Just found out your family has orders to the land of paradise? Obviously, there’s a ton of planning to do including making sure the fur kids have a smooth move. To make sure you’re ready to pack up Fido or Fluffy, here are 10 things to keep in mind so your forever family member arrives safely.

1. Download the official checklist

Pay a visit to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture website and download the checklist for the 5-Day-Or-Less-Program. This five-page PDF, although somewhat confusing to read, has every step listed for bringing a pet to Hawaii. On Hawaii Military Pets, we simplified the steps and added some advice from some of our most seasoned pet travelers.

2. Contact your nearest Military Vet to save money

If you live near a military veterinarian, ask them to put you in contact with the military veterinarian clinic at your next duty station. You can also locate Hawaii’s clinics on the Army’s Public Health Command page. Army veterinarians can save you possibly thousands of dollars in health certificates, shots and other services. Hawaii has military veterinarians at Fort Shafter, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman, Schofield Barracks and Marine Corps Base Pearl Harbor.

3. Consider hiring a pet moving company.

If you want to take the stress out off moving your furry friend, consider hiring a pet moving company like Happy Tails Pet Travels. A local Hawaiit company we recommend is Island Pet Movers. Run by a former Navy sailor, the company specializes in military moves and does all the paperwork for you and if needed, they’ll pick up the pet(s) and take to a kennel for temporarily boarding.

4. If you have to kennel and board, do so through the FMWR

Speaking of boarding, Hawaii is one of only a handful of duty stations with a military-run boarding kennel. The Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) Pet Kennel offers us the most affordable rates and is top notch, winning the 2005 “Spirit of the Eagle Award” for best Army FMWR facility. The kennel is open to active duty, military civilians and retired personnel.

5. Know the pet policies for base housing.

If you’re going to live on base, obtain the housing pet policy. All military housing in Hawaii is privatized and all have breed bans and numerical, size and weight limits. The restrictions are not consistent by service or location, so while the family pet may be permitted where you are now, they may be banned here. Housing off base has similar restrictions. The Hawaiian Humane Society’s Pets in Housing program works with property managers and housing companies to advocate for pet owners in finding affordable and safe places to live.

6. Try to get your pet a Space-A Flight.

Air Mobility Command offers space-available flight, known as Space-A travel, for pets, but you may only take two pets (or up to three if they fit the cabin size restrictions) and a 14-day travel window is required. Space-A is a service that allows military service members, their families and service retirees fill seats on military air transport flights that otherwise would be left empty. Some duty stations don’t fly commercial airliners, so you can only book these flights to a destination that has these capabilities. This checklist has all the detailed requirements. In Hawaii, The Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam AMC has a Facebook page for the latest flight schedules.

7. Understand the costs involved and potential reimbursements available to you.

You may get some money reimbursed for pet travel. One way is if your pet is in quarantine. Up to $550 is available if you meet certain requirements. And, check with your tax-filing office to see if some of your pet-moving expenses can be written off when filing income taxes.

8. Find pet friendly hotels in advance if you do not have to board your pet.

Research the pet-friendly hotels. There are a few here that allow pets, such as the Navy Lodge and Aqua Hotels and Resorts. At Aqua Hotels, exceptions to the published weight limits are made on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Kehau Amorin, Director of Sales and Marketing, Military and Government at 808-741-8932 to learn more about the hotel’s military programs.

9. Research local pet laws.

Know Hawaii’s pet laws. Hawaii has laws covering companion animals and the city and county of Honolulu have their laws. Much of military housing is off base, where the Hawaiian Humane Society has concurrent jurisdiction with The Honolulu Police Department to enforce laws pertaining to pets. The Hawaiian Humane society’s website lists our leash laws, policies on barking complaints, animal abandonment and animal cruelty. On the military bases, enforcement of pet law falls to the military police, game wardens and animal control officers.

10. Stay organized.

It might be helpful to keep a planner for certain shot deadlines and set aside a little each month for pet moving expenses. For more about staying organized during a move, download the free Ultimate PCS Guide!

Theresa Donnelly is an active-duty Navy Lieutenant with 16 years of military service, having done 10 years enlisted with multiple overseas deployments. She is the owner of Hawaii Military Pets, an online pet resource for military families living in Hawaii. The blog and Facebook page provide information on moving with pets in the military, boarding information, pet policies in state and federal governments, and overall ways to celebrate the human-animal bond. She routinely partners with local and national animal nonprofits that place special emphasis on military and their companion animals, such as Dogs on Deployment and Pets for Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @tdonnelly76.

Think you can’t take your dog to Hawaii with you? Think again! Know all of your options before giving up on your furry family member.

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