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Oregon Dogs: Therapy, Assistance, and Companion Dogs

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Today’s print Oregonian story, The definition of service animals grows to include animals that provide companionship to their owners, by Andy Dworkin (The Oregonian, Tuesday October 28, 2008) reminded me that I hadn’t yet posted this blog-post I’ve been working on.

(Most blog-posts don’t appear out of the blue on a whim; most are the result of, sometimes, a lengthy thinking and writing deliberative process – how dull that sounds. But it’s not!)

In any event, we’ve had a rash (a litter?) of dog-law questions lately (except not too many shaggy dog ones), not just in my county but from around the state. So, let’s try a little educational blogging for those of you who want to research the law:

Here are some research hints:

1) Always look up definitions – legislative and judicial ones, not just dictionary ones: Look in the ORS (and never forget Special Session laws not yet codified) and the OAR and your local codes (e.g. city, town, Trimet, etc.). Look in the print “Words and Phrases” volume (possibly online at your local law library) of the Oregon Digest and the stand-alone (Thomson/West) “Words and Phrases” set, may also give you some more leads.

2) Any definition you find, either in a statute or anywhere else, is not without controversy, and if you want to continue your research, visit a law library (or maybe start with one on the Internet) and start researching the law. (I like this guide at the AALL website: How to Research a Legal Problem: A Guide for Non-Lawyers.)

If the law library is closed, here are some online research resources to check:

1) OSB Legal Links on Animal Law

2) Animals on business premises, including food service businesses: contact Oregon Food Safety Division and Laws Regulation Animal in Food Establishments, which links to a useful DOJ article, COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SERVICE ANIMALS IN PLACES OF BUSINESS (this document dated January 14, 2008).

If your question is about:

1) Dogs on private property: Contact the owner of the business and the owner/landlord of the property where the business is located, in addition to resources listed below.

2) Dogs on public property: Contact the jurisdiction’s facilities department or the locale’s administrator. For example, call the County Facilities Department, or the City Manager’s office, or call the town’s information/help number to find out who to talk to. E.g. In Washington County, the Facilities Use policy address questions about which animals allowed on county property. And, consult the resources listed below.

3) Oregon State Laws: ORS and case law searching (visit your local library for books on researching case law) or, in the meantime, use one of these to search Oregon cases.

4) Federal Law Sources: U.S. Code and the CFR

Other sources of information on animal law:

1) ADA Service Animal Organizations and Information
2) Oregonlive Pet blog
3) Nolo Press Dog Law (lots of libraries have a copy of this book)
4) Lewis & Clark Center for Animal Law Studies (see, especially, Resources)
5) History of Animal Law (via the Lewis and Clark 2008 Animal Law Conference website)

Index terms may include, but are not limited to the following:

Assistance Animals
Dog Guides
Hearing ear dogs
Liability, blind person or trainer
Blind persons, right to dog
Public accommodation, right to have dog
Public transportation

Look at the statutes that apply to your specific situation. There may also be cases interpreting these laws. Consult with an attorney or contact other resources, such as your county or city’s Animal Control office, the Animal Legal & Historical Center, or the Oregon State Bar.

** If you have a legal problem (not just a legal question) you may need to hire an attorney or perform your own legal research to find the laws that apply to your specific particular situation. **