Getting an Emotional Support Animal in Portland, Oregon

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 14, 2021

Portland Oregon skyline

If you are considering getting an emotional support animal in Portland, Oregon, you have come to the right place. Not only can we talk you through the federal and state laws that protect ESAs, but we can also get you started on the process of making it official and help you get your (legit) ESA letter.

There is a reason more ESAs are so popular. They help people with a wide range of mental illnesses or conditions cope with day-to-day life. Still, with ESA ownership comes great responsibility. You need to know what legal protection your ESA has, and where that protection ends!

Emotional Support Animal In Portland, Oregon: Specific Protections

In order to receive an official license to call your pet an emotional support animal in Portland, you simply need a letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. They need to verify that you have a mental illness or condition and that you would benefit from having an ESA.

When you have an ESA letter, you can legally take your ESA into rented accommodation and onto flights. Because of this, those who need ESAs are applying for this useful letter in record numbers.

There are two ironclad laws that protect emotional support animals, but more on that later! First, let’s take a close look at what an ESA is!

Definition of Assistance Animal

Assistance animals generally fall into three main categories. These are Service animals, psychiatric service animals, and emotional support animals.

  • Service Animals: Service animals are specifically trained to perform certain tasks for their owners or handlers. Examples of service dogs are seeing eye dogs and dogs that are trained to help people with mobility issues, think dogs opening doors or pressing elevator buttons. The training these dogs undergo is very intensive, and not any dog makes a good service animal. Service animals also have wider legal protection than emotional support animals.
  • Psychiatric Service Animals: These animals are similar to service animals in that they are also specifically trained to perform certain tasks to aid their owners. Psychiatric service dogs are often trained as alert dogs. They alert their owners to oncoming seizures or panic attacks and help the owner through the ordeal by bringing medication or distracting them.
  • Emotional Support Animals: ESAs are not required to have any training. At all. However, in order for them to enjoy the protection the federal laws provide them with, training your ESA in basic obedience is paramount! An ESA’s sole purpose is to exist and provide calming comfort and companionship to their owners. People suffering from mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) truly benefit from the presence of an emotional support animal in Portland, and just about everywhere else!

Therapy Animals: These animals do not have protection under housing or flight laws. However, they definitely have a big role to play in improving the quality of life of people living in places such as nursing homes, hospices, and hospitals.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in Portland, Oregon: CertaPet’s Simple 5 min Process

The only way to get an ESA letter (the legitimate way) is to get it from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). CertaPet streamlines this process. We make the process simple and efficient. All you need to do is take our free online pre-screening. This will only take a couple of minutes!

If your answers indicate that you may qualify for an ESA, we will put you in touch with an ESA in your state! You could have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs!

Travel Laws (Air Carrier Access Act)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is one of the two federal laws that protect that protect ESAs. According to this law, ESA owners are allowed to fly with their emotional support dog or cat free of charge.

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of people abusing this law by misrepresenting their pets as ESAs to get them onto flights. Airlines have had no choice but to tighten their ESA policies to make it harder for fakers to abuse the system. Before flying with your ESA, make sure you research the airline’s ESA policy!

esa in womans bag at portland oregon airport

Employment Laws

Employers are under no obligation to allow an ESA into the workplace. You can, however, state your case to your employer, and ask whether you can bring your ESA to work with you.

This is where obedience training can be a deciding factor. If your employer asks to meet your ESA, make sure your ESA is incredibly well behaved and does not cause disruptions or distraction.

Housing Laws (Fair Housing Act)

Landlords have to make exceptions for renters with ESA’s due to the Fair Housing Act (FHA). While landlords may choose to refuse tenancy in the first place for a variety of reasons, if a current tenant needs an ESA, the landlord cannot legally evict them.

A landlord cannot charge a traditional pet deposit for the animal. Just like the employer situation, a landlord may require the individual to provide documentation to prove that they are eligible for an ESA, but there is no need to show the landlord that the ESA itself is trained.

Exception To The Rules

Federal law (at present) does not specify exactly where ESA’s can be taken in public, so there are no black and white rules to follow.

Employers can legally request that animals that pose a threat cannot join you at work. If the animal is not properly house trained, then the employer could ban it due to the mess and damage it can cause to company property.

Similarly, the potential for damage to a rental property is enough for a landlord to refuse an emotional support animal in Portland and their owner tenancy. If the home is a multiple occupancy building, the animal may also be a threat to other tenants. In practice though, the suspicion that a large breed may cause damage is not enough for a landlord.

There must be actual evidence of damage for an eviction to take place.

emotional support dog sitting in front of closed door

Punishment for Misrepresenting an Assistance Animal

There is currently no law in place in Portland, Oregon, to punish those who misrepresent any kind of assistance animal. This is sure to change in the future considering how many people are abusing the legal system and have no qualms passing their pets off as ESAs or service animals.

Just remember: by misrepresenting an assistance animal, you are making it harder for those who truly need an ESA to make use of the legal protection that ESA is entitled to!

5 Facts You  Need To Know Before Receiving Your ESA

  1. ESAs are not service dogs and do not have protection under the same federal and state laws.
  2. In order for your ESA to get “reasonable accommodation under the FHA, your dog needs to be well behaved and not show aggressive, destructive or disruptive behavior.
  3. An ESA is not allowed on a flight, despite the ACAA, if you do not abide by the airline’s ESA policy.
  4. An ESA is a big responsibility. You will lose your legal protection (and possibly your ESA) if you neglect or abuse the animal!
  5. There is no such thing as ESA registration or Certification. An ESA letter has to prescribed by a LMHP.

Where To Find a Suitable ESA: Portland

Any dog or cat can be an ESA. Maybe you already have a furry best friend in your family! They could be your ESA!

If you don’t already have one, please, please consider adoption! Animal shelters are full of loving doggos and kitties. They are just sitting there waiting for a second chance and a furever home!

You can find anything from purebred dogs to truly special pavement specials in animal shelters and rescue groups!

Where To Take Your ESA in Portland?

There is no shortage of places in Portland to take your ESA. As a cosmopolitan city full of green spaces, pet owner groups, and pet-friendly businesses, there are so many options to choose from.

Dog Parks and Dog Runs

There are too many parks to mention in Portland; all of which cater for your furry friends! One particularly popular space is the Sellwood Riverfront Park. It is a 1.5-acre area that allows off-leash dogs to roam. Visitors have said that you will need to take your own water and dog poop bags!

Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

After your visit to the park, you could spend some time chowing down in one of the many Portland restaurants that cater to ESAs. The Tin Shed Garden Café is a very popular choice here! The café even offers a dog menu so that your emotional support dog can eat beside!

Resorts, Fitness, and Spas

There is very little that you and your ESA can’t do in Portland, and this extends to adventure activities. The Forest Park Wildwood trail is a very popular walk through the beautiful Oregon countryside. The 30 miles of trails which you can explore will give you and your pet a good workout!


Portland offers a great array of activities for owners and ESAs. The restaurants and parks which exist in the city will make your time here comfortable, as well as fun! Keep an eye out for doggy events in Portland on social media! You wouldn’t want to miss out on all the furry fun!

assistance animal lying with head in mans lap

ESAs in Portland Oregon: How to Get Connected With a LMHP in Your State Today!

CertaPet has made the process of getting an ESA letter super easy! The last thing you need if you’re having a rough time is to worry admin!

You can start by simply taking our free online 5- minute pre-screening. If your answers indicate that you qualify for an ESA, we will connect you with a LMHP in your state.

You could have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs!

Do you Qualify for an ESA? Find Out in 5 Minutes

See If You Qualify For An Emotional Support Animal

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