Pursue your passion to save the lives of dogs and cats

With our courses offered in partnership with Southern Utah University, you can transform your passion for helping dogs and cats into professional growth.

Whether you’re an experienced animal services professional looking to grow your career or new to the field, the partnership between Best Friends and Southern Utah University offers unique learning opportunities in contemporary animal services tailored to fit your needs — from degree programs to professional certifications and credentials.

Prepare to make a lifesaving impact

Our programs provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to save the lives of cats and dogs in your community. 

Learn from the experts

Courses are carefully curated by experts in the field who have worked hands-on in animal services.
Regional Strategist Marla Browne giving a presentation

Make valuable connections 

The course structure encourages you to grow your lifesaving network through collaboration.
Two people hugging

Gain the skills you need 

Our first-of-its-kind programs give you the specific information you need to save the lives of pets.
Two people wearing masks with a community cat in a humane trap

Ready to take the next step in your career?

Whether you’re an experienced animal services professional looking to grow your career or you’re new to the field, these courses offer unique learning opportunities and can be tailored to fit your specific goals.

Foundational course

To get the most out of your learning experience, we recommend starting with our foundational course, Principles of Contemporary Animal Services.

Person wearing headphones and working on a laptop computer with a terrier dog in his lap

Principles of Contemporary Animal Services 

Learn about the history of animal services in the United States and develop a better understanding of the data, policies and practices in the field today.

Micro-credential courses

Participants who complete these courses earn micro-credentials that can be combined to equal three academic credits. Eligible courses include Studies in Contemporary Animal Services, the Dog Lifesaving Course, and the Cat Lifesaving Course.

Smiling person reaching out to pet a cat in an animal shelter

Studies in Contemporary Animal Services 

Take a deep dive into the field of animal services and learn from experts in the field of animal services about career pathways, programs that support lifesaving, and supporting change.
Smiling person relaxing in a yard with a happy dog

Dog Lifesaving Course

Explore proven ways to save the lives of dogs in animal shelters through adoption, dog behavior and well-being, foster programs, canine handling, shelter medicine, and much more.
Smiling person holding a cat

Cat Lifesaving Course

Learn the strategies, programs and actions that have proven most successful in saving the lives of kittens and cats.

Specialized courses

If you’re interested in what it takes to run an animal sanctuary, Running a Lifesaving Sanctuary is the course for you.

Person hugging two white pit bull type dogs in a fenced area

Running a Lifesaving Sanctuary Certification 

Gain knowledge, resources, and insights to aid you in starting your own successful organization. You'll learn about starting a non-profit, strategic planning, fundraising, and more!

Leadership certifications

If you're an existing leader in the field, we offer the Executive Leadership Certification and the Management Leadership Certification

Group shot of first graduates from the SUU Executive Leadership Certification with a dog

Executive Leadership Certification 

Develop connections and community with fellow animal services leaders, and learn about the programs, practices and principles critical to saving cats and dogs in shelters.
Person holding two boxes containing community cats ready to release

Management Leadership Certification 

In this program, you’ll focus on aligning your efforts with the needs of your community to save more cats and dogs.

Master’s degree program

This 30-credit master’s degree can be completed online and covers a wide variety of contemporary animal services topics, from managing people and budgets to fundraising and crisis communications.

Person holding a black and white kitten in the foreground with another person holding another kitten behind her

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies 

Pursue your passion for helping animals by earning an advanced degree (30-credit master’s degree) tailored to your professional interests.

Course availability may vary.  

What past participants have to say about the programs 

Carolyn Evans
"Being part of the ELC helped me build skills and a tool set to approach my work with greater confidence."
Carolyn Evans
Executive Leadership Certification Graduate
Executive Director at Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society
Spencer Conover
“As a leader in animal welfare, I never really had a solid direction until I met the great teams with Best Friends Animal Society and Southern Utah University. Their guidance has shown me structure and passion and dedication, and also has shown me my true potential in helping people and pets in my community.”
Spencer Conover
Master of Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate
Assistant Director, Pasco County Animal Services
Randi Ashley
“It has been super helpful to see how other organizations do things. Staff morale has improved at my shelter because of what I learned here.”
Randi Leigh Ashley
Management Leadership Certification Graduate
Adoption Supervisor, Anderson County PAWS
Samantha Bell holding a black and white cat

Learn from the experts in animal services

Our facilitators have years of combined experience saving the lives of cats and dogs. They bring their wealth of industry insights and connections to each program. 


Ready to up your lifesaving game?

Tell us that you’re interested in one of our programs, and we’ll let you know when the next session opens for enrollment.

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A groundbreaking partnership 

Best Friends and Southern Utah University have partnered to create the nation’s first university-endorsed animal services leadership program, led by our team of experts in the field. 

Best Friends Logo Mark

About Best Friends

Best Friends Animal Society is working to save the lives of cats and dogs all across the country, giving pets second chances and happy homes.

Just a few years ago, cats and dogs were killed in staggering numbers in this country simply because shelters didn't have the community support or the resources to save their lives. That number is now less than half a million per year, but there’s still work to do to ensure a bright future for every dog and cat in America. 

Best Friends operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals and is committed to saving the lives of homeless pets by working with shelters and passionate people like you. Together, we will bring the whole country to no-kill in 2025. Together, we will Save Them All.