Puppygate Fiji 2015
I mentioned in my post last week, “Tales from the boatyard,” that we have been having problems with Fiji Biosecurity due to our having hauled our boat out with two quarantined dogs on board. Because we have to laugh no matter what happens to us, Wayne have taken to calling this debacle Puppygate.
For those who are old-timers like me, biosecurity is the new name for what we used to call “agricultural” when they came out to the boat with immigration and customs to clear us in. Countries are trying, quite sensibly, to stop the importation of invasive species of plants and animals, pests like fruit flies, American iguanas, or zebra mussels, and in the case of a country like Fiji that is rabies-free, they don’t want to bring in any animals that might be carrying rabies. We have nothing against this process, and we were trying to comply with their regulations.
When we cleared in here, we had to show a certificate of health and paperwork demonstrating that the dogs had had all their shots including rabies, as well as that they’d had their Rabies Neutralizing Antibody Titre Tests done. While we were allowed to enter the country here with them, they were quarantined to the boat. The problem started when we hauled the boat out — which was necessary since we literally had a hole in the bottom of the boat. As I wrote last week, they didn’t notice for the first two weeks, but once they did notice the dogs, the troubles started.
Misud, the Biosecurity officer here at Vuda Point Marina had recently been transferred here from the Nadi Airport. I guess he was more accustomed to an adversarial relationship from his experience there. The day Puppygate Fiji 2015 started, and they came and threatened to take away the dogs, Misud wrote us out a court summons saying we had committed an offense and fined us $1650 Fijian. He said we had forfeited our bonds of $3000.00 Fijian, and started us on daily monitoring which meant paying the $28.75 Fijian per day. We searched through their hundred some page document concerning bringing animals into the country, and it says nothing about hauling a boat out. It simply says it is the responsibility of the captain to make sure the animals on the boat do not have contact with animals on the shore. Since our deck was about 16 feet off the ground, there wasn’t much chance that our dogs were going to get onto the ground. But we decided not to go to court in a foreign country. We paid all our fines.
And then we decided to try to butter them up. We were nice as can be. We learned that in order to import a dog from the Marshall Islands, we would need to have the dog quarantined for 30 days. We suggested to them the dogs had been quarantined on the boat under daily monitoring for 30 days, therefore we should be able to bring them in. Another $150 Fijian and a visit to the boat from the official Biosecurity veterinarian, and Misud there smiling and telling us that it was only thanks to him that our dogs can now go ashore.
Puppygate is finally over—we now have imported our dogs. We got the official 15-page document three days ago, and our little Fiji dogs got to go for their first walk in over 2 months.
Traveling with dogs can be a challenge, but the joy we get from them is worth the hassle and expense. Now every evening when we go out to our little grassy patch to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset, our Fiji dogs get to come with us.