Seventeen Pets Dead Due to Animal Quarantine System in Hawaii

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At least 17 pets have died in Hawaii state quarantine since members of our group, the Community Quarantine Reform Coalition, first testified three years ago about the pressing for modification to state’s quarantine system. These 17 pets all had a clean bill of health less than 14 days before arrival here, and many were young animals.

Since our effort began, much research has been done by our group, now numbering nearly a thousand members worldwide. We found the scientific and medical evidence from the CDC, World Health Organization, and other scientific groups supports a plan including vaccination, identification, and serology to protect rabies free islands such as Hawaii.


Quarantine is no longer the best or safest method. The reforms we proposed eliminated the need to confine pets that previously had two vaccinations, microchip identification, blood serology and a health certificate.

We presented this to the state Legislature in several hearings last year and carefully explained the facts, but Dr. Foppoli, who is in charge of the state’s quarantine, claimed we were biased and he said he needed to complete a new study, which would be rigorously reviewed by outside experts. For that reason, he said, his report would have the credibility he claimed ours lacked.

Bear in mind, our testimony was signed by over 40 medical and scientific professionals and was shared with experts from the CDC, USDA, World Health Organization, the inventor of the OIE-FAVN test we now use, and Dr. Foppoli himself. Many letters of concurrence from these very experts have flooded the Capitol, to no avail.

Dr. Foppoli’s report was delivered to the state Legislature and the governor’s administration using the “peer review” to establish its credibility. But regrettably, the report was inaccurate and just a vehicle to ensure his job security.

A letter from the Hawaii State Attorney General’s office, dated Feb. 10, 2003, states Dr. Foppoli had no “peer review” at all. He had not sent his report to anyone and had no signatures of authorities to vouch for his assumptions, methods and calculations.

We hold him responsible for using this fraudulent report to facilitate the killing of legislation and efforts to modernize our system. He also is responsible for all the financial, physical and emotional pain endured by the over 4,100 pets and owners this last year alone.

The scientific facts are well established. Dr. Foppoli’s proposal requires only two lifetime vaccinations, (plus a blood test followed by a 4-month prearrival wait). For this reason, each vaccination is no better than a first vaccination. A prearrival wait under this scenario is indeed an important feature for the remote possibility that a pet could have been bitten the day before the vaccination and could theoretically incubate the disease.

The Coalition proposal previously submitted requires at least two current vaccinations. The prearrival wait is between the first and second vaccination. As long as the pet has been continuously vaccinated, they are protected from rabies and there is absolutely no need for this waiting period. The minimum time of protection under this plan is 130 days, more than the 120 days prearrival wait required by Dr, Foppoli.

Both proposals require Blood Serology and a Health Certificate.

The Coalition proposal deals with those pets which do not qualify by requiring quarantine (at private, state regulated facilities) until such date as they have completed all the qualifications for up to 120 days.

But Dr. Foppoli’s plan keeps his confusing bureaucracy in place. Pets not qualifying are stuck with the same old 30 day and 120 quarantine programs, forcing the State to continue funding an out of date facility where legal liability is increasing by the day. The coalition plan frees state workers now guarding perfectly healthy and safe pets, to be reassigned to interdicting smuggled pets and alien species to Hawaii.

Rather than increased cost as alleged by Dr. Foppoli, the coalition plan will significantly reduce cost as the Halawa facility could be better utilized for other government services or sold for commercial use. His $3 million requested for operations this year would be better spent on schools or roads.

Airport facilities now process Guide Dogs in about 10 minutes and the coalition system would reduce staff required even there, as no holding or transport would be required. A simple check of physical health and microchip identification confirming previously delivered information about this pet, would allow owners to pick their pets up in about as much time as they now spend waiting for baggage.

Legislators’ final decision boils down to a question of respect – do they respect the world’s experts work on rabies prevention and the many supporters and volunteers who have tirelessly worked to shed the light of truth on this 91 year old bureaucracy? Or do they respect the word of this one man who has repeatedly lied to them, the Administration and the Public?

The government draws its power from the consent of the governed in the United States of America. We will not tolerate or condone a Government which will not listen to the people who grant this power. The people who have testified, and the many hundreds who have written letters have told the legislature what they want – real reform. The coalition’s plan is the safe thing to do, the fair thing to do and the right thing to do.

”’Chris Quackenbush is the founder of the Community Quarantine Reform Coalition. She can be reached at 808-277-5737 or via email at:”’