From beaches to high mountains, and from old villages to modern cities, Oregon offers something for everyone’s taste. Known as the Beaver State, it has come to terms with its ancient, wild west roots and has since moved to protect and conserve its vast nature and diverse culture.

With plenty of room to roam and things to explore, Oregon makes for a great state to own an emotional support animal. If you already live in Oregon but are wondering how to get an emotional support animal (ESA), the following information may be helpful to you.

How does Oregon Define Emotional Support Animals?

An emotional service animal (ESA) is an animal prescribed by a professional to provide therapeutic support to its owner. A family pet can be designated as an ESA, or an owner can adopt a pet specifically for this purpose. Most emotional support animals are dogs, but there are no restrictions that state which type of animal can be used—a cat, hamster, a rabbit, or even an iguana can fulfill the role of an ESA.

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How to Get an ESA Letter in Oregon?

To obtain an ESA letter in Oregon, a patient needs to have a diagnosis of mental illness. Examples of such a diagnosis may contain the following diseases:

This diagnosis is given by a state-licensed mental health practitioner or medical doctor. To receive a letter, a patient must make an appointment with their therapist or doctor to discuss the necessity of an ESA. If the professional believes that an ESA will bring therapeutic support and companionship to the patient, they may provide documentation for an ESA.

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Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Oregon?

An ESA letter is written by a licensed mental health professional, such as:

  • psychologists
  • licensed nurse practitioners
  • licensed clinical social workers (LCSW)
  • licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
  • mental health counselors
  • medical doctors

An ESA letter can be obtained online or in-person. However, the ESA letter must be written and signed by a licensed healthcare professional licensed to practice in Oregon. 

A legitimate ESA letter in Oregon must be written and signed by a healthcare professional who is licensed to practice in the state of Oregon.

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Laws Protecting Emotional Support Animals in Oregon

Emotional support animals are protected by the Fair Housing Act, which states that an ESA is classified as “reasonable accommodation” for a person living with a disability. This requires landlords to allow an ESA, as they aren’t considered pets. Also, ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act, which will enable them to assist an individual by providing companionship and emotional support. 

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Where Can You Go With an ESA in Oregon?

Unfortunately, an ESA is not covered by the same protections as a service dog. Unlike a service dog, an ESA is only allowed in public spaces that any pet can go to. For example, an ESA can go to a dog park but cannot enter a grocery store. There are two exceptions that ESAs are given:

  • They’re allowed in no-pet housing. By law, landlords are required to allow ESAs, as long as they don’t require unreasonable accommodation and aren’t a danger to the other residents.
  • They’re allowed in the cabin of an airline. ESAs are allowed to travel with their owners in the cabin of an airplane, regardless of age, size, or breed, and with no cost to the owner. 

Where Can You Adopt an ESA in Oregon?

When looking for an emotional support animal, it’s recommended that you choose a pet that has basic training, or the ability to be trained. This will help your pet acclimate to new environments, such as new apartments or airline cabins. In Oregon, you may adopt an ESA from these shelters:

Oregon Humane Society

Oregon Humane Society, Oregon

The Oregon Humane Society, located in Portland, is an animal shelter that has adoption services for both dogs and cats. The shelter provides plenty of programs, such as student education classes, pet spay and neuter services, and assistance in finding a pet that is suitable for your individual needs and household.

Oregon Dog Rescue

Puplandia Dog Rescue Oregon

The Oregon Dog Rescue shelter provides adoption services to Portland and the surrounding cities. This non-profit, no-kill shelter was founded by two local women in 2007. They focus on dog adoptions and have a monthly intake of roughly 175 dogs. In 2019 over 1,800 dogs were adopted.

Puplandia Dog Rescue

Oregon Dog Rescue shelter, Oregon

Located in Aloha, Puplandia Dog Rescue is just a short drive west of Portland. Founded in 2016 this shelter is relatively young but has a great passion and large following. The organization is run by volunteers and their mission includes six R’s—rescue, reach, rehab, reduce, relieve, respect. 

Where Can You Take Your ESA for Exercise Before a Flight

Like any other pet, emotional support animals require regular exercise. Many owners will take their ESAs on walks around the neighborhood, or on a daily run down the street. Dogs that enjoy the presence of other dogs will benefit from visiting a dog park, as these locations help exercise dogs both physically and mentally. Bringing an ESA to the dog park prior to a flight is recommended, in order to help them release energy and relax them for the flight. The closest dog parks to Portland International Airport (PDX) are:

When you take your emotional support animal on travels, it's important to exercise them to release energy.
When you take your emotional support animal on travels, it’s important to exercise them to release energy.

Fernhill Park Dog Off-Leash Area 

This natural forest garden features a wide variety of native plants, trails, different activity areas, and a hill shaped like a bowl. For your emotional support dog, there’s an off-leash dog area with plenty of room to run, and maybe even a squirrel to chase.

Fernhill Off Leash Dog Park, Portland, Oregon
4050 NE Holman St, Portland, OR 97211 (map)

Wilshire Park Off-Leash Dog Park

Wilshire Park is a 14-acre park. It doubles as a small wildlife sanctuary in the city, allowing visitors to unwind and enjoy nature. The large off-leash dog area is among the big trees, offering your emotional support dog natural protection from the elements.

Wilshire Park Off-Leash Dog Park, Portland, Oregon
4030 NE 37th Ave, Portland, OR 97212 (map)

Luuwit View Dog Park

Formerly know as Beech Park, Luuwit View Park is named after a Native American word. It is a large, open area allowing for all sorts of activities. The large dog area is fenced-in and contains paths for your emotional support dog and yourself.

Luuwit View Dog Park, Portland, Oregon
12641 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97230, United States (map)

ESA in the News in Oregon

ESAs frequently appear in the news, due to their relevance to the community and importance to those who benefit from one. Recently, the local news has reported on these stories:

  • A college student at Portland State University has to live on campus as a resident assistant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because her roommate is moving out, it created unexpected anxiety. She brought her family dog to campus, who is a certified ESA.
  • Portland International Airport reported on the difference between service dogs and emotional support dogs and how to travel with them through the airport properly. 
  • The University of Oregon reported on the benefits of having a pet while in college and discussed how to obtain an ESA. Click here to read more. 
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