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Emotional Support Animal Laws in Oregon: A Basic Guide2022-07-20
Suppose you are thinking about buying a trained emotional support animal in Oregon or would like to get your animal trained and certified as an ESA in Oregon. In that case, there are a few things you should know about the lay of the land before you dive in.
Several federal laws impact Oregon ESA owners and should be considered before getting any animal. While none of these laws are specific to Oregon, and there are no special laws that apply only to Oregon, it's essential to understand the federal laws that remain true anywhere before you make that kind of commitment.
The Air Carrier Access Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act are the three laws you'll want to understand.
Air Carrier Access Act
The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, also known as the ACAA, was designed to prohibit all discrimination against disabled passengers by airlines. Its protections also extend to ESA owners, so if you're thinking about getting an ESA in Oregon, you'll want to understand the ACAA and what protections it offers.
Before 2020, the ACAA allowed ESAs to ride in the cabin of a plane underneath the seat in front of their owner.
However, some changes to the understanding and application of this law mean that it is no longer possible for Oregon residents or anyone.
Now, the ACAA only protects travelers with service dogs, who get special allowances to ride in plane cabins.
However, sometimes, an ESA dog that is small enough will be allowed on the aircraft after paying a carry-on fee to bring the carrier onboard. Others may not mind a small dog that can fit beneath the seat, but you always run the risk of them noticing the animal and asking you to deplane.
If you have an ESA dog, you may be able to train it as a psychiatric service animal (PSA) trained to do tasks that relieve distressing mental health disorders. PSAs are classified as service dogs and are protected by the ACAA, though airlines may request you fill out paperwork before boarding.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act went into effect in 1968 and protected tenants or buyers from discrimination due to their religion, race, nationality, sex, color, familial status, or disability. All housing in Oregon, except rental buildings with fewer than four units, single-family homes rented or sold by an owner without an agent, or religious organization housing, is covered by the Fair Housing Act, extending to people with emotional support animals.
Regardless of where you live and the landlord's pet accommodations, your ESA can live with you without an additional fee. The exception is that the landlord may deny or revoke ESA access and accommodation if the ESA is noisy, disruptive, dangerous, or causes damage to the property.
Under the FHA, emotional support animals in Oregon are also covered in on-campus university housing, including dorms. However, they won't be allowed in other parts of the campus, such as academic buildings.
While your landlord or school housing program may request documentation of your ESA, as long as you have a proper ESA letter to show, you'll be free and clear to bring your ESA along with you.
Americans with Disabilities Act
When describing ESA protection, the Americans with Disabilities Act is commonly referred to, but this is a mistaken reference.
The ADA does not protect ESAs, but rather only protects certified and trained service animals. These animals include guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure dogs, allergy dogs, and psychiatric service animals (PSA).
The ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination in public places, when using any kind of transportation, and from job discrimination in schools and all areas of public life. It does not extend to anyone with an emotional support animal, as these aren’t service dogs.
While some people may try to use a note from a doctor to certify a disability and thus a need for an emotional support animal, the ADA still would not cover an ESA.
Oregon's Service Animal Law
Oregon laws use the exact definition of service animals as the ADA does but use “assistance animals” rather than service animals.
One important distinction to make that is Oregon-specific is that miniature horses do not qualify as service animals, but they may be eligible in other states.
Oregon's service animal law makes no mention of emotional support animals designed to provide a sense of companionship, safety, and comfort to those with emotional disabilities.
These animals are not explicitly trained to do anything related to a disability, and they aren't allowed into public places the way service animals are.
Always ask private establishments for permission to bring your ESA. Businesses can set their own rules and allowances.
While some states may have different employment laws, Oregon does not have any other laws surrounding employment or places of work with emotional support animals. Unfortunately, there are no protections for you to bring your emotional support animal into your workplace.
While service animals have nearly no restrictions and must be allowed into workplaces if necessary, this isn't the case for ESAs, so any employer may legally deny access to an ESA.
However, as mentioned above, just because an employer is not legally required to allow your ESA on company property, many workplaces are dog-friendly. There's no harm in asking whether bringing your ESA in would be okay, so give it a shot to see what they say.
There's a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating about emotional support animals, the laws that protect them, and what is and isn't allowed while traveling, in housing, and public places.
If you're an Oregonian considering getting an ESA, it's helpful to understand the laws beforehand, so you know what to expect and what challenges you.
The Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Act offer the most protection in travel and permanent housing. At the same time, the Americans with Disabilities Act only protects trained service dogs.
The Fair Housing Act will allow you to bring your ESA with you anywhere to live, regardless of the pet policy and without an additional fee. The ACAA, on the other hand, does not offer as much protection as it used to, though some airlines will still allow small ESAs in the cabin for a fee.
Don't rely on the ADA to protect you or allow you to bring your animal with you into public places, as it does not cover any ESAs. You should also be wary of any employment protection, as no federal or state laws offer protection.
As long as you understand what is and isn't protected, nothing stops you from getting an ESA in Oregon.
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