Sara Bright, CPDT-KA, CCDT, BBA, has over 25 years experience working with a variety of dog breeds. Prior to opening Best Friends Dog Academy, Sara worked as a dog trainer at SPOT and Co., as the Dog Training Coordinator at the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center, and as the Director of Adoption & Education at Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue.

Since childhood, Sara has shared her life with dogs, cats, horses, llamas and goats.  Originally from Iowa City, she spent several years living on the East Coast, where, in 1994, she was one of the original volunteers who worked together to create Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR). Serving in a variety of roles ranging from Board President to hospice foster home, Sara most recently worked as the Director of Adoption & Education at DVGRR. Since moving home to Iowa in 2015, Sara worked as the Dog Training Coordinator at the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center, as a foster home to dogs with behavioral and medical challenges, and with the Iowa City Animal Services Supervisor to create a prison dog program and a local animal response team.   She is also a responder with national animal disaster response teams, most recently deploying to Houston, TX following Hurricane Harvey to work with Best Friends Animal Society as they sheltered and rehabilitated over 400 dogs.  Over the past 25 years, Sara has been a foster home to hundreds of neonatal kittens, as well as puppies and dogs, for the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center, Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR), and Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota (RAGOM).

Her years with rescue and shelter dogs have taught Sara the qualities that families want in their family pet, and that each dog is an individual -  the “right” way to train is to work with the dog in front of you, starting where he is, helping him discover the joy to be found in learning and working together.  Sara's clients include many families with children and dogs, and she enjoys including the kids in the process, as that is a huge key to keeping everyone in the home safe and happy.  She has years of experience working with fearful dogs, and loves to help people understand how to calm their dog's anxiety, and by doing so, modify the behaviors demonstrated by the dog.  Sara is an AKC Approved Canine Good Citizen evaluator, and a Fear Free Certified Professional.

Sara shares her home with eight permanent resident dogs, an assortment of cats and chickens, and a rotating cast of foster kittens and puppies.  Her spare time is spent hiking, training her own dogs, and relaxing with family and friends.

Professional Memberships and Affiliations:

Animal Behavior Society, member

ASPCA Field Investigations & Response Team, responder

American Kennel Club, AKC S.T.A.R puppy and Canine Good Citizen, evaluator

Association of Animal Behavior Professionals, member

Association of Professional Dog Trainers, member

Best Friends Animal Society Animal Response Team, responder

Doggone Safe, member

HSUS Animal Rescue Team, responder

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, member

Iowa City Dog Obedience Club, member

National Animal Control Association, member

Pet Professional Guild, member

Red Rover Responders, responder


CPDT-KA, Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

CCDT, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy

Certified Animal Control Officer, CDI-New Jersey

Fear Free Certified Professional


Stacy is passionate about cultivating a trusting and connected relationship between dogs and their families. She is dedicated to using positive reward-based methods that promote learning and strengthen the human-canine bond. Stacy has worked with numerous dogs as a lead volunteer at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center. It was there that her journey into dog training began.


Stacy is a graduate of the University of Iowa (MA, 1995). Her professional background in the human world has included counseling and teaching. 


Stacy and her dog have earned Novice and Intermediate Tricks Titles from the AKC. They have also enjoyed dabbling in Nosework and Cooperative Care. She is a supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), a member of the Iowa City Animal Response Team, and participates in many continuing education opportunities for dog trainers. She will take her Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) exam in the fall of 2021.