Yesterday marked another missed opportunity for the Board of Agriculture to recognize that vaccination works better than quarantine for dogs and cats. While well prepared testimony was given by several members of the Community Quarantine Reform Coalition and over 450 written and signed petitions received supporting changes to bring Hawaii in compliance with national directives, a few “Bored” members could barely stay awake, and others clearly showed they had not read any of the Board materials preparing for the meeting … as usual.

This testimony was not simply an impassioned plea for sanity from a few pet owners, but a clear directive from national experts chiding Hawaii’s clear and direct contradictions to modern scientific regulations for the prevention of rabies. There were ”’no”’ testimonies or petitions in support of the current regulations which still require a quarantine of 120 days for pets which do not have a blood test or have not waited 120 days after this blood test before arriving in Hawaii.

The Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association pointedly rescinded support for Hawaii’s 120-day quarantine in a meeting November 2003, and issued a public statement available on their web site. The Compendium directing national policy on rabies prevention that is issued by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, a group including the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, AVMA, and many other august bodies, ”’clearly”’ addressed Hawaii when it pointedly stated that blood serology should ”’not”’ be used, and that pets are fully immunized 28 days following vaccination. They clearly and fully stated that Hawaii’s requirement for three year vaccination every 18 months does not increase immunity and may endanger pets.

Each year, the Compendium is sent directly to our State Veterinarian, Dr. Foppoli, and his Chief of the Quarantine Station, Dr. Maeda, who now is the spokes person for the department since Dr. Foppoli was recently discredited when he presented his flawed report to prevent change, falsely claiming it had been peer reviewed. They withheld these national directives even from their own Board of Agriculture.

Following the compelling testimony revealing all this and more, the confused Board called Dr. Maeda to testify. They asked what he would recommend, being their “staff expert.” Rather than refute any of this, or present scientific data of his own, he simply said, I just don’t think we’re ready yet. They have not gotten around to implementing the last changes passed by the Board and don’t know when they will.

Meanwhile, 28 percent, or over 1,500 dogs and cats are sent to quarantine according to his figures. Most of these trapped in this dangerous, expensive and useless system are military families, who must pay dearly. It still costs $1,080 for each pet, not to mention the time and travel for visits and health risk to their pets.

Those who came to testify left shaking their heads in wonderment at the Board of Agriculture vote to deny their petition to send the changes supported by all major scientific experts out for public hearing required for rule changes.

It is ironic that Gov. Lingle had touted the administrative changes in Quarantine as one of her proudest achievements, when ”’her”’ administration still does business as usual. Their skill in foot dragging designed to maintain the bureaucracy is legendary. These regulations have been in place for 92 years and this bureaucracy intends to perpetuate itself as long as they can keep the public in the dark. Not once in the entire 92 year history of quarantine has there ever been a dog or cat with rabies interdicted by quarantine, yet we pay many millions each year to support this program and its largely empty facility at Halawa.

So long as the Board of Agriculture (itself an anachronism worthy of change) gives more credibility to self interested local bureaucrats already exposed for lying, than to national public health experts, we will have this kind of flagrant abuse. Playing politics with public health is a dangerous game. Wasn’t Government Accountability one of the platforms of this administration?

Let’s ask Gov. Lingle to come through, especially for the military she so pointedly (and correctly) honored in her state of the state address. Call her at 586-0034, or email her at: mailto:gov@hawaii.gov

”’Chris Quackenbush is the founder of the Community Quarantine Reform Coalition. See its Web site at:”’ http://www.quarantinehawaii.org

”’HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to”’ mailto:Malia@HawaiiReporter.com

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