Pet owners run out of patience with the shortage of inspectors and longer waits at Honolulu Airport’s quarantine station
The line of tired and weary pet owners can stretch out the door at the Honolulu Airport’s animal quarantine office, and tempers occasionally grow testy.
In just the last three weeks, the anti-rabies quarantine station has seen as many as 60 pet owners per day trying to squeeze through a time window that used to be 12 hours a day.
Since the number of inspectors reviewing both applications and animals was cut to two from four in December and mandatory furlough days went into effect, pet owners now have 31/2 fewer hours to get their pets processed through the increasingly busy quarantine station below Gate 26.
In light of concerns about potential layoffs and/or furloughs facing the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Mayor Tavares has organized a group of individuals to bring the most up-to-date information to various Maui communities. The Mayor feels this is an important investment of our time because the decisions that are ultimately made will impact all of us to varying degrees. A shortage of agricultural inspectors could pose a host of threats to our environment, agriculture industry, tourism, and public health and safety.
The group of presenters include Anna Mae Shishido – Maui County Supervisor of the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch, Warren Watanabe – Executive Director of the Maui County Farm Bureau, Teya Penniman – Manager of the Maui Invasive Species Committee, and myself.
The Kula Community Association has graciously agreed to host our group at its next meeting, which will be open to its entire membership and the community-at-large. It will be held at the Kula Elementary School cafeteria on Tuesday, October 6th, starting at 6:00 p.m.
Please join us if you can and feel free to invite your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to this very important meeting. We will provide you with the most current information and let you know how to stay informed about this issue and what you can do to help out.
Office of the Mayor
County of Maui
200 South High Street, 9th Floor
Wailuku, Hawai`i 96793
Telephone (808) 270-8299
Fax (808) 270-7870
ADVISORY (August 17, 2009) –
The State of Hawai’i is currently faced with a significant budgetary shortfall. While it is still uncertain how budget cuts may affectservices by the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture, you should be aware that if you are qualifying your pet for direct release at Honolulu International Airport and are currently making travel arrangements, it may be prudent to arrange to arrive in Honolulu during between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. This is especially important if you are planning to take a connecting flight to another island with your pet the same day.
Currently, some employees have received layoff notices. In addition, the possibility of furloughs exists. In the event layoffs or furloughs or both are implemented, it can result in a reduction of the current hours of inspection for airport release. Animals that arrive at the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility after hours of inspection will be held overnight and processed the following morning.
We are providing this advisory as a precaution, because we realize that flight arrangements are usually made far in advance of travel. If the situation changes, we will update this webpage accordingly.
The airport office will continue to accept pets arriving from the airlines at Honolulu International Airport; however, we anticipate that inspection hours may be affected, which will result in delays in processing the inspection and release of pets at the airport.
Did you think the governor issued layoff notices to impel the unions to more readily agree to the more sensible alternative of furloughs? Because if the layoff notices are lighting a fire under anybody, it seems to be state legislators.
The unions are still moving with deliberation, possibly hoping that the economy will stop getting worse, tax revenue will increase, and a smaller concessionary delta will be the focus of negotiations after that.
Lawmakers, on the other hand, now that can see what specific jobs are for the chop, are concerned about the state services set to be screwed up as an inevitable consequence of having no more dough to fund them.
The selection of jobs to reduce does not show any obvious sign that anyone deliberately sought to create as much pain as possible, to hold their breath until you turn blue. To the contrary, they’re spread out among many departments, and the other departments that seem mostly spared are those with a lot of non-union employees who are being put on the furlough program instead, the judge’s order not having impeded that with workers who aren’t subject to collective bargaining.
But the layoffs still include agriculture inspectors, nurses and other people who come nowhere close to the slow-moving, never-heard-of-customer-service, surly bureaucrats that many people fantasized would be sent backing in a round of layoffs. Heavens! Agriculture inspectors and nurses! They do actual work!
Within hours of issuance of the list detailing the positions being cut, several lawmakers had gone on record saying this won’t do. Some who wield budget power even claimed the jobs could not be eliminated without their say-so, while the agriculture cuts produced an immediate constituency for taking action among lawmakers from neighbor islands, especially the Big Island.
As I reported a couple of weeks ago, the state ag department stands to lose inspectors who are a necessary part of the process of exporting Hawaii farm goods to other countries. The fear is that perishable goods will, uh, perish, before they can reach their markets.