Puppygate Fiji 2015

The quarantined hooligan stars of Puppygate Fiji 2015

The quarantined hooligan stars of Puppygate Fiji 2015

by Christine Kling

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.

See how different they look now? These are Fiji dogs!

See how different they look now? These are Fiji dogs!

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.

All's well that ends well

All’s well that ends well

Fair winds!


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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I was living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I made from my books having parted ways with the big publishing establishment. I self-published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES. In 2012 I was offered a publishing deal with Amazon's mystery/thriller imprint Thomas&Mercer and they reissued CIRCLE OF BONES. The sequel to that book, DRAGON'S TRIANGLE came out in June 2014. And as for me, I'm no longer a singlehander on my little boat. I met Wayne Hodgins in 2013 and after a whirlwind Skype courtship, I flew to meet him in Fiji and we sailed a nearly 2000 mile passage to the Marshall Islands for our "first date." We now sail together aboard LEARNATIVITY, a 52-foot motor sailor with our family including Barney, the Yorkshire Terror and Ruby, the Wonder Dog.
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