Moving pets to Hawaii
Preparation, Planning, & Backup Planning
This Process includes two main objectives:
1.) Preparing your paperwork
2.) Preparing your pet for travel.
Before you begin this intense process, you’ll need to decide if moving is in the best interest of your pet. There are quite a few considerations before relocating your beloved pet to an isolated island.
Firstly as you’ll learn, Hawaii is a humid state. More information on Hawaii’s weather here. If you have a Husky, Alaskan Malamute, or other dog breed or even cat breed, that may not thrive well in humid weather, you may have to consider leaving them with a relative or friend or lastly, rehoming. Some families do decide to bring their heavily furry animals over, but please firstly consider the following:
- It would be irresponsible to leave your pet(s) outside all day; especially if you live on a warmer part of the island. Oahu climate information
- Accept the possibility of additional costs of running the AC; if you should choose to leave them inside during the day.
- Doggie daycare can run you around $30 to $50 a day.
Secondly, some animals are not allowed in Hawaii; for example any wolf hybrids, see here for more information. Also, if you are planning on living in military housing, please be aware of any possible breed restrictions.
You’ll also need to seriously contemplate whether your pet can withstand traveling, especially during the Spring and Summer months. Because of possible breathing difficulties during flgiht, some airlines will refuse transporting snub-nosed dogs and cats. If you are traveling from the East Coast your pet’s journey will be significantly longer, and your pet must be in good health to withstand the inevitable stress and strain of traveling. Finally, you need to take your pet’s overall health into serious consideration. A very old or very young (less than 9 weeks) animal, or pets with serious and chronic medical issues, may be better off staying where they are. If your pets should need hospitalization during their transport, you will have to pay-out-of pocket.
Once you have made the Commitment to moving your pet to Hawaii, begin the paperwork immediately!
If you have a guide or service dog, please refer here for your resources.
Preparing your Paperwork
Inform your travel company that you will be traveling with pets. Once that is confirmed, call the airline personally and inform them that you will be traveling with pets and check to see if there will be any pet embargo. Tickets for your pet will normally cost around $200-$300 depending on the airline. Unfortunately, the military does not cover pet travel. Hawaii is a rabies-free state and therefore has strict guidelines for incoming animals. There are two programs: 120 days, or 5-Days-or-Less. Refer to this brochure for the extensive checklist for both programs. Be mindful of timelines. There are tests that had be administered MORE THAN 120 days prior to your arrival. If you choose the 5-days-or-less program, there is a 120 day pre-waiting period. There are also certain hours of operation at the inspection office (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) with 3:30 p.m. being the latest arrival time accepted. You pet’s Health Certificate will also have to be WITHIN 10 days of travel. For more information, visit Hawaii’s website.
From my personal experience, here are four tips I highly recommend:
- Find and utilize a veterinarian familiar with the PCS process, your nearest military vet would be a great start, and a more economical choice.
- Set aside a minimum of $300 for tests, shots, possible procedures and paper work. You may also need to purchase or alter your existing kennel to meet your airline’s guidelines. Please take the time to contact the airline and learn their specific requirements, as each airline is different.
- Keep original copies, make carbon copies, and have all signatures in blue or red ink on original copies (weird but just do it). Keep these documents on your person, easily accessible when you travel.
- Understand if you should fail to submit all the necessary paperwork your pet may be required to stay in quarantine, and you will be liable for the cost.
Preparing Your Pet
While the paperwork process is underway, you’ll need to make ensure your pet(s) will be ready for the move to Hawaii. Regardless of where you are departing from, the flight time will be at least 5 hours. 2-3 months prior to your departure, purchase an airline approved pet carrier; and again check with your specific airline for their requirements.
Pet Carrier: As soon as possible, let your pet(s) get accustomed to their carrier/kennel. Giving them ample time to see, smell and be inside their carrier will ensure they are as comfortable as possible for the transition, travel, and acclimation to their new home. Decorate the outside of the carrier with recognizable markings and put your pet’s name on the outside. It may just be wishful thinking but I believe that airport and airline workers take greater care of a pet if they know his or her name.
Another great idea is to place a worn t-shirt inside, this will make their travel quarters more familiar by reminding them of their owners smell and love. An old t-shirt or familiar blanket will add a reminder of home and provide extra protection incase of an accident during flight.
We froze the water inside its water bottle and trained our pet to drink from it. Consult your vet about the amount of time your pet should go without food to avoid any number two’s in the carrier. Make sure their leash is with you, in your carry-on and not packed away.
From our travling experience, I highly suggest you plan to bring extra cash when you arrive at the airport. We tipped the helpful courier ($20) as we had 4 huge bags, two carry-ons, a pet kennel, and our dog. We went straight to the front on the line and he loaded all of our luggage. We also tipped the Taxi Driver and the Rent-a-Car shuttle driver. The Taxi Driver helped load our dog and even gave her some treats. The Rent-a-car Shuttle Driver allowed her to be outside of the kennel while he drove us to the rent-a-car stand. The extra cost was worth the time and effort it saved us.
In conclusion, accept that you can plan & plan; but sometimes things just don’t work out perfectly. Have a contingency plan! You could always consider delaying relocating your pet, if you plan on coming home for the holidays, you could plan to return then with your pet. You should also encourage your spouse to connect with his or her command to see if there is anyone that would be available to pick up or even care for your pet; if they are set to arrive before you do.
Moving with pets during a PCS to Hawaii doesn’t have to be stressful as long as you are prepared. With proper planning, attention to detail, and a back-up plan, you and your fur babies can arrive safely and happy ready to enjoy paradise! –JD
JD is a passionate and talented blogger, she is a fellow military wife stationed here in beautiful Hawaii! She has some great topics covered on her blog, feel free to click below to read more! -Kapolea