My three Lhasa Apsos spent 120-days in the Oahu quarantine facility, and as a result, I spent hours-upon-hours of my first trip to Hawaii visiting my puppies for as many hours as permitted. I was juggling a home purchase, moving my belongings in from the Mainland, and learning a new job.

I came 5,000 plus miles from Tampa, Florida, to support the Navy and Marines here. My relocation was made terribly stressful by being separated from my pets, who sleep in my bed and are like family. Seeing the facility and knowing the conditions they had to remain in still brings tears to my eyes and a hard knot to my stomach.

I do not believe that the quarantine stops rabies. I have heard the propaganda and cannot seem to find a single fact that makes this necessary. Just the fact that not a single case of rabies has been detected or developed from an animal during their confinement tells me there is no reason to have it in force any longer. If cases had ever been discovered, I would agree with the system, but that has not ever happened.

My dogs were ill during there stay with everything from eye infections, swollen, inflamed feet from having wet paws daily, sores from bug bites, and diarrhea. Since being released, they have not had a single problem — so it certainly wasn’t an ”’allergy.”’

Recently I spoke at a hearing in the House of Representatives in support of changing the processing of our pets. I heard Dr. Foppoli, the State Vet, testify that people had an option to board their animals with a private vet, and this is totally false. I had gone to his office twice during my 120-days and spoke with him. He told me personally that only if the pets were sick would they be sent out — and had to return once they were well.

In addition, he testified that he would need a new facility and more staff to immediately operate a release program at the Airport such as is in effect for service dogs. My dogs arrived at midnight and were simply processed the next day.

When I talked with him after the meeting about this, he agreed he could do this with his current staff but a new facility would be better. He verified any animals arriving after 4:30 p.m., like my three puppies, would simply stay overnight and be released in the morning. Pet owners arriving in the future could simply be told to arrive at a suitable time to permit affective and timely processing of their animals. Staff at the Quarantine Station could be redirected for other necessary functions of inspections and animal control, thereby providing improved services at no additional cost.

With the Agriculture Board’s approval, this whole issue could be over, we could have our pets, help make Hawaii safer, and maintain our lifestyle.

I feel betrayed by the State Vet who cannot be trusted to report facts during an official hearing. It is painfully slow and frustrating to seek change in a lawful, orderly way within the state government, especially with families suffering so.

I urge the state Legislature to help us bring this situation up-to-date with our modern technologies with vaccination and reasonable administrative processing of our animals.

”’S.J. Harlan is a resident of Ewa Beach and can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:sjharlan@yahoo.com

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards.