Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jumping through the Hoops to Get your Serviced Dog Admitted – Be Self-Reliant!


We are on a fabulous cruise for the holidays: San Francisco to Hawaii roundtrip on the Grand Princess.  For the first time in our experience, two other service dogs are aboard!  A merry trio of Asta the Shih Tzu, Cupcake the Miniature Poodle, and Riley the Border Collie.  We just had our “inspection” from the veterinarian from the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture.  Asta went first.
Microchip number on the documents matched the Microchip number of the chip she carries.

 Original Signature on Health certificate dated within thirty days of our arrival (Frontline application within 2 weeks).

  Documentation of Rabies Vaccination received with 3 year window.

  Rabies Titer documentation (blood test that shows Asta’s antibodies against rabies are properly activated).

  Original note from my mom’s doctor stating that Asta is needed by my mom for medical reasons and what the reasons are (in general).
Asta sailed through with flying colors, and the vet thanked us for getting all our paperwork to them ahead of time.  Note it was sent directly to the Department of Agriculture about ten days before we arrived, and also to the cruise line, so that the port agent could easily pave the way for our arrival.

Cupcake went next.  Unfortunately, Cupcake’s paperwork was not in order.  She was not microchipped.  The vet might have overlooked that, but it got worse.  The latest rabies vaccination information was there, but not the information on the 2 previous vaccinations.  The “killer,” though, was that the test results from Cupcake’s rabies titer did not come through.  Long story short, Cupcake is quarantined to the ship for the duration of our stay in Hawaii.  No grass for her.

Cupcake’s human father was frustrated and angry, and thought the cruise line should have informed him. 
Bottom line, it is not the cruise line’s problem.  If you want your service dog to be able to get off the ship with you, you need to do the leg work personally with the governmental authorities.  Check the website, call them, email them and get confirmation that you have all the paperwork and tests complete.  Then, also, inform the cruise line of what you have done and sent.  It is all up to you!

To finish the story, Riley’s paperwork was in order and he had a wonderful time, especially in the rain in Hilo.  Riley’s human mom told me of their past experience of how they were set to go on a cruise that stopped in Samoa (a U.S. territory).  Riley was confirmed by the cruise ship to go.  She told me that when she checked with the Samoan governmental authorities about clearing Riley to disembark, she was advised that if Riley got off the ship, he would be confiscated and destroyed.  (Even though a U.S. Territory, evidently they do not have to comply with the ADA).  Anyway, unsurprisingly, they did not go on that trip.

Special thanks to the awesome port agent, Paul, from Transmarine.  I met him two years ago on our first cruise to Hawaii with Asta.  He did a lot to train me on this process.  Just saw him again on this trip.  Alas, all of us may not be so lucky to have such a fellow help us through every time. 

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