Service Animal Registry of America

Frequently Asked Questions
Information provided herein is for general information purposes and should not be considered legal advice.
Please consult an attorney for your specific law related questions.


What is a service animal?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act: "Service animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items."

"Service animal."  The term "service animal" encompasses any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.  The term is used in 36.302(c), which requires public accommodations generally to modify policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate the use of service animals in places of public accommodation."

Does my service animal require professional training to be SARA registered?

A service animal by its very definition is an animal that is trained to perform the functions of assisting its disabled handler. However, the training does not need to be performed by a professional or expert trainer. Many have trained their own animals or have been assisted in training by friends and family. What is most important is that the training is effective and the animal does perform the tasks required to assist its disabled handler and is well controlled in public.

My service animal is still being trained. Can it be registered now?

If the animal is already assisting the disabled handler, it may be SARA registered as a service animal, even though, all of its training is not completed. If not, it may be registered as a service animal in training.

What species can be a service animal?

SARA does not place any limitations upon the species or breed of service animal used by a disabled handler. Any trainable animal could be a service animal. The most common of course are dogs, cats, primates and birds. Any animal that has been effectively trained to perform the tasks required to benefit a qualified disabled handler could be considered to be a service animal.

What is the difference between a service animal, support animal, helper animal, and an assistance animal?

They are the same, except for the terminology. The term Service Animal is the federal legal term.

What is the difference between a service animal and a therapy animal?

A therapy animal, although a valued companion with an important purpose, is usually legally considered as any other companion pet would be, and as such, is afforded no special consideration under the law in housing, transportation or public access.

Many therapy animals visit nursing homes, orphanages, hospitals, etc., others reside in group living environments, doctor/dentist offices, rehab centers, as well as in the private homes of individuals who benefit from the therapeutic companionship of the animal.

A service animal on the other hand is given special consideration under the laws of our land. A service animal is for the benefit of a legally qualified disabled individual, and it has been trained (conditioned) to assist (by a task or function) that disabled individual. This assistance may often be therapeutic in nature, but the animal is nonetheless considered a service animal Such as animals for emotional support or Autism support who are trained to sit/stay or lay still and stay for extended periods of time to provide a focal point, divert thoughts, and other such trained (conditioned) tasks.

When an animal is trained to assist (help, aid, support) a qualified disabled individual due to the disability, the animal is considered a service animal rather than a therapy animal.

Generally, under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal laws concerning service animals, two primary questions exist in whether a person has a legal right to claim their animal as a service animal.

1. Is the individual qualified as being legally disabled under the law? Disability means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

2. Has the animal been taught to perform a task or do work that assists the disabled individual? When an animal has been taught to assist (help, aid, support) a disabled individual due to the disability, the animal is considered a service animal.

Some State laws may offer greater rights within that state under State law.

Are service animals required to wear special equipment?

The ADA does not require any special equipment or attire. Some State statutes do have specifications. The most commonly used equipment is a collar, leash, harness, backpack, neck scarf (bandana), cape, vest, jacket or T-shirt. Often attire will have an identifying patch to immediately alert the public that the animal is a service animal. The color red is most often used and is universally recognized as the service animal color.

Does the SARA ID card list my disability or personal information?

NO! No medical information or personal contact information is contained on the ID card. The photo ID identifies your service animal and contains its SARA number.

Does SARA require evidence of my disability to register a Service Animal?

The applicant must sign a declaration under penalty of perjury and have it witnessed verifying the person is disabled.  In the event no witness is available, a Dr. RX stating you are disabled and require a service animal will suffice. SARA is not a HIPAA entity; we do require disclosure of your disability to SARA on the Service Animal application for an application to be considered. Although SARA is not a HIPAA entity, SARA regards such information as private. Further, SARA protects your sensitive information in every reasonable way possible. Unlike some organizations, we will never voluntarily disclose or provide any of your private health information to other parties except when SARA is required by law to do so.

What forms of payment does SARA accept?

U.S. funds in the form of a check, money order, cash, or cashier check. Rush orders are by money order only.

How long will it take to receive my order with normal processing?

We make every attempt to offer a fast turn around service. Processing times vary due to our workload. On the average, we process your application within 15-20 business days after it is received in our office. However, at certain times of the year we are busier than normal. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the mail service is sluggish. Allow 4-6 weeks.

Do you have rush service? I'm in a hurry.

We offer a 10 business day processing turn around rush service for an additional fee of $20.00 when order payment is made by money order. The 10 day processing does not include mail transport time. Please double check your application and make sure you include all information, a photo and payment by money order. Incomplete orders, illegible applications and checks will delay the processing time. While we make every possible attempt to work within your timeframe, do understand that SARA cannot guarantee delivery by a certain date.

Can I email my application and photo or order?

No, all orders are by postal mail.

What kind of photo is needed?

We need one clear color photo of the animal. PLEASE READ OUR PHOTO INFO PAGE

I live outside the U.S. can I still register my service animal?

Yes. However, you will need to contact us for information on shipping fees to your Country.

How do I renew my SARA registration and photo?

Just use the registration application to update your information and include the SARA number that was issued and send a current photo with the appropriate fee stated on the application. New documentation will then be issued.  Renewals do not require a witness.  

What is your mailing Address?

SARA, PO Box 607, Midlothian, Texas 76065

Shipping and Damage/Loss Claims

Effective 5-02: We ship all items by first class, insured, USPS mail. Your shipment is insured against loss or damage through USPS insurance. SARA is not responsible for items lost or damaged in transit. You must file a claim directly with USPS to recover the value of the shipment. USPS CLAIMS FAQ