Depending on which state you live in, the laws surrounding service animals differ. It would be too easy if the laws were nationwide, but that is not the case. For the most part, the laws are very similar with just a few minor changes. It is important to check into the laws in your specific state so that you can obtain correct and up-to-date information.
A service animal is an animal that has been specially trained to perform tasks for disabled individuals. Some service animals may be a lifeline for their owner, while other animals may be trained for only a few tasks. Most service animals help their owners complete day-to-day tasks. The difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal is that an emotional support animal is more of a companion, rather than a helper.
Oregon state law protects individuals and their service animals in the following locations:
- places of public accommodation
- public services, programs and activities
- state government services, programs and activities
- public transportation
- private transportation
Under this state law any animal is to be accommodated if they have been designated by administrative rule. Typically, a dog is a service animal, but sometimes miniature horses may be utilized.
What Service Must the Animal Provide?
- Service animals must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks
- for people with disabilities.
- Under the new law, providers of these services cannot:
- ask you about the nature or extent of your disability;
- require documentation proving that an animal is an assistance animal or
- trainee; or
- charge a fee or admission charge for an assistance animal.
- You may be able to seek damages under the Oregon law.
Your service animal should be permitted to join you when visiting, restaurants, hotels, theaters, stores, auditoriums, museums, parks, schools, recreational facilities, doctor or lawyer’s offices, hospitals, and most other places of public accommodation.
A service animal must be allowed to access all areas where members of the public are allowed to go, such as restaurants. At a hospital, this includes the emergency room, in and outpatient rooms, clinics, and all other facilities except those that require a protected environment, such as operating rooms, holding and recovery areas, intensive care, and other sterile environments
What Can Be Asked?
The staff members at all of these locations are allowed to ask you if your animal is a service animal, and what tasks it helps you complete. They are not allowed to ask you what disability you have or for documentation. You can choose to show documentation, but it is not required.
You should never be charged a fee for having your animal accompany you in public places.
Does My Service Animal Require a Leash?
Service animals do have to obey leash laws, they are not an exception. If the service animal cannot complete the tasks it is utilized for, then a leash will not be required. A service animal may also be excluded from using a leash if the disabled individual cannot use one.
When a leash is not used the handler is responsible for keeping the animal under control whether through voice controls or other signals.
New Addition to Oregon State Law
One of the newest additions that Oregon has made is that service dogs in training are now allowed to accompany individuals in all public places. Your dog will be treated equally to other service animals that have completed training. You will still be fully responsible for the animal’s actions and any harm that could occur.
Oregon is a pretty lax state when it comes to service animals. Their guidelines are very similar to all other states, and they even have a few amendments in place that provide extra protection for service dog use.