Lawmakers could give service dogs a pat on the head
Bark if you're a working dog in Oregon.
Bark twice if you support legislative measures to honor working and service dogs, and to make it a crime to misrepresent an ordinary dog as a service animal.
Dogs are getting a lot of attention this legislative session. Besides the two proposals on working and service dogs, a separate bill to make border collies the official state dog still awaits a hearing by the House Rules Committee. House Concurrent Resolution 7 was introduced in mid-January by state Rep. Lynn Findley of Vale. Oregon doesn't have an official state dog, and one of Findley's constituents proposed the measure to call attention to the good work border collies do on Central and Eastern Oregon ranches and farms.
Other bills intoduced this session dealing with dogs (and other animals) include:
• Senate Bill 268, which provides a tax credit for anyone adopting a dog or a cat from an animal shelter. It is part of a March 12 Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources work session.
• House Bill 2804, which prohibits retail stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits from sources other than rescue organizations. It is awaiting action by the House Business and Labor Committee.
• House Bill 2683, which prohibits landlords from charging extra rental fees for pets. It is awaiting action by the House Human Services and Housing Committee.
• House Concurrent Resolution 12, which designates rescue dogs and cats as the official state pets.
Lying about service dogs
In late February, state Rep. Sheri Schouten, a Beaverton Democrat, introduced House Concurrent Resolution 25, which honors more than a dozen working or service dogs, including Yamhill County's courthouse dog, a Labrador named Marybeth, who soothes the rattled nerves of people awaiting legal procedures in the building; the Portland Police Bureau's K9 officer Mick, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in April 2014; and Lila, a Portland Fire Bureau arson dog, whose work helped convict an arsonist who tried to kill his girlfriend.
HCR 25 is also awaiting action by the House Rules Committee.
House Bill 3098, introduced by Schouten in late February, would make it illegal to misrepresent a dog as a service dog, considered a dog with special training to aid someone in a specific task or as a benefit for someone with a disability or ailment. Anyone lying about a service dog could face fines of between $500 to $1,250 and/or 30 days in jail on repeated offenses.
HB 3098 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. No action has been planned on the measure.
Darin F. Campbell, media and government affairs director for Portland's Radio Cab Co., asked Schouten to introduce HCR 25 and HB 3098. Campbell is a lobbyist for Working Dogs Oregon, a group he helped create in 2015 to advocate for service dogs across the state. HCR 25 is similar to a bill Campbell proposed in the 2017 legislative session, which failed to get a lot of attention from lawmakers.
Campbell said his wife's experience with working dogs, and the death of Portland Police Bureau K9 officer Mick in 2014, led to the latest proposals. Jennifer Campbell's rescue dog Toby was being trained to replace an older service animal when Toby developed an inoperable brain tumor and died in 2016. The dog's death, and the death of Mick, reminded the Campbells of the special abilities service dogs use to help people.
"These two incidents got us thinking about all the amazing things dogs do for humans in all aspects of life," Darin Campbell said in an email. "So we went on a statewide search and learned about tremendous dogs doing great things and feel that they need to be recognized."
HB 3098 was also based on Campbell's experiences as he and his wife trained service dogs and ran into difficult situations with others who often called untrained and ordinary dogs "service animals."
"Most people think their dog is well behaved because they are acting like a normal dog, because of that they feel they can get away with taking their dog places that they shouldn't be," Darin Campbell said. "I have received stories from so many people about the real problems un-trained dogs are causing those that have well-trained service dogs."
A Feb. 25 Multnomah County Circuit Court lawsuit provided an example of Campbell's concerns. The family of a 5-year-old girl is suing Alaska Airlines, Portland resident Michell Brannan and the Port of Portland for more than $1 million because the child was severely injured at Portland International Airport in December 2017 when a dog (described in a lawsuit as a pit bull) attacked her. The dog, which was to accompany its owner on an Alaska Airlines flight, was allowed through security without a secure crate because its owner claimed it was an "emotional support animal," according to the lawsuit.
Alaska Airlines said in a March 11 statement that the airline was "heartbroken by this tragic and disturbing incident and remain very concerned for our guests' condition. We are not able to comment on the case given it is pending litigation."
No court date has been set for the case.