The National Service Animal Registry (NSARCO) claims it has a roster of customer support specialists who are able to register animals as service, emotional support animals, or therapy animals. According to the website, every specialist affiliated with the National Service Animal Registry has a comprehensive understanding of the laws and regulations that affects support and ESAs, and are able to work with customers on helping them get a sense about legal protections. National Service Animal Registry says people can speak with agents on live chat, call in, and search through a database of information in order to learn more about ESAs, therapy dogs, and service animals.
The National Service Animal Registry offers ESA registration kits in three different price points. The cheapest plan, at $54, includes free lifetime registration, inclusion in a service dog database, and free certificates, ID cards, and leash clips. The next plan, at $114, includes all of the items in the $54 plan, with the inclusion of an ESA vest, foldable information cards, and digital copies of supporting documents.
Finally, the most expensive plan, at $154, comes with a large number of foldable ESA information cards, and an ESA leash, collar, and personalized ID tag, along with all of the items seen in the first two ESA plans. The National Service Animal Registry says shipping is free on all kits at the $99 price point and above.
While the National Service Animal Registry lists a robust set of options for its ESA registration packages, there is no current approved and legitimate ESA registration database currently available, this throws the claims and premise of the entire organization in question. Rather, the proper process for an ESA letter includes speaking with a qualified mental health professional who would write a prescription for an ESA letter. The National Service Animal Registry lists no information about medical health professionals they work with and does not provide any sort of details about how customers can carry out this process. The lack of information in this realm casts a suspicious glance on the entire website.
The National Service Animal Registry says that people looking to fly with their ESAs need a letter from a licensed therapist or medical doctor, along with an ID card, and recommended ESA service vests and photo ID card for the dog. However, the National Service Animal Registry re-directs customers to an outside website to obtain “a legitimate prescription letter” for an ESA. Questions remain about the legitimacy of the outside website and the National Service Animal Registry’s relationship with them. The outside company, Chilhowee Psychological Services, has the same listed mailing address as the National Service Animal Registry. Additionally, the same staffers appear to run both companies, as the about pages feature stock photos and the same CEO. Staff biographical listings are vague, and the photo of the CEO seemingly appears doctored when compared to other similar photos on the internet. Companies that are a legitimate operation tend to have detailed biographies of employees and display different and individual photographs of select employees on the website.
Additionally, the National Service Animal Registry lists a wide variety of ESA-related options and accessories for a dog in conjunction with the registration service and information. None of the products listed are actually required, as long as a person has a valid and legitimate ESA letter. Letters advertised on the website say they last for a lifetime, but legitimate ESA letters need to be renewed on a yearly basis. Even though the National Service Animal Registry claims customer’s dogs will also be registered in the National Online Service Dog Database, no such repository for dogs currently exists yet.
The National Service Animal Registry also makes strong claims about the benefits of registration in ‘legitimizing’ an ESA letter, even though ESA registration is not currently accepted practice. Registration does not make an animal look more official, and the National Service Animal Registry has vague language about the voluntary nature of registration, even though the different package options list it as part of the options.
The National Service Animal Registry gained prominence after a local news outlet, FOX31 in Denver, studied the service as part of an investigation into ESA websites. According to the report, those who worked with the National Service Animal Registry on securing an ESA letter for a cat only spoke with one person for less than 15 minutes, and the person was not the same medical professional as the one who signed the letter. Additionally, when reporters tried to visit the physical address of the National Service Animal Registry, they allegedly just found people answering the phone with boxes of supplies and did not see any doctors or medical staff.