The House Agriculture Committee Saturday heard the first bill introduced to totally eliminate quarantine for properly qualified pets, HB 664, HD1.

Under this landmark legislation called “Ruby’s Law” authored by Representatives David Pendleton, R-Kailua, and Bud Stonebraker, R-Hawaii Kai, pets would need a microchip for identification, two vaccinations no less than 90 days apart and no more than a year apart, a blood test following the last vaccination and a health certificate within 30 days of arrival to Hawaii.

Owners would need to notify the State Agriculture Department at least 5 days in advance of arrival to schedule inspection. Upon inspection and corroboration of ID, the pet would be released to the owner at the airport.

Pets not qualified would be quarantined until they did qualify up
to 120 days, but the intention is to privatize this function for the small percentage of pets expected in this category. The state already authorizes private veterinary and kennel facilities to house quarantined pets.

Private facilities could be identified on all islands to keep pets closer to home, easing the burden on those from Maui, Lanai, and Molokai which have no authorized facilities. With current quarantine regulations mandating either 120 days or 30 days quarantine, it has proven expensive and harmful to pets and their owners, while increasing the real risk of smuggling.

Volunteers from the Community Quarantine Reform Coalition have worked hard for over two years to bring this issue to this point. See its Web site at: http://www.quarantinehawaii.com The group now includes roughly a thousand members from across the globe. At least 75 waited three hours to testify.

The bills are named “Ruby’s Law” to commemorate Susan Tartaglia’s licensed therapy dog, Ruby, who died recently of pesticide
poisoning after only 10 days in quarantine. Ruby was returned to her as a tin can of ashes with no comment from the state. Susan testified at the hearing along with the owner of Chocolate, Bill Schnurr, who conducted a hunger strike to release his dog from quarantine when she became ill.

Valery Hopkins, from the Big Island will also testify about her prize German Shepherd that was quarantined in Halawa for four months and was given back to her with seven teeth broken at the nerve line by blunt force trauma, and dragging its hind quarters as he could not walk.

The Chair of the Agriculture Committee, Rep. Abinsay, did not allow the authors bill to pass, but substituted his own proposal into the bill. The bill now is useless to an estimated 95 percent of incoming pet owners as it requires at least 5-10 months of preparation time to qualify, leaving them to the same old quarantine of 120 days or 30 days with a 90 day prearrival wait. It is particularly a slap in the
face to our military who comprise 40 percent of the pets in quarantine and almost never have this amount of notice before assignment. It will pass to the Health and Finance Committees of the House where it may be amended again. The group hopes to restore the bill’s original provisions. No hearing dates are yet assigned.

Sen. Fred Hemmings authored the Senate Companion Bill, SB1175 SD1, and has a committee hearing in the Senate Water, Land and Agriculture Committee next Friday, Feb. 14, 2003, at 1:15 pm in the Capitol Building, Room 224. He also authored SB1531, a bill to eliminate the special fund for quarantine, changing it to a general fund item, which will be heard in the same session. Calls and letters to the governor’s office at 586-0034 and mailto:gov@gov.state.hi.us are urgently needed.

”’Chris Quackenbush is the founder of the Community Quarantine Reform Coalition. She can be reached at (808) 277-5737 or via email at:”’ mailto:chris@diamon-fusion.com

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