Best Friends Animal Society Awards Scholarships for Animal Services Courses to Four Promising Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Members

(Courtesy Best Friends Animal Society) Eric Pikyavit, Jeremy Garcia Standing Solder, Lorena Jake and Kara Tso, members of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, recently received Animal Services scholarships from Best Friends Animal Society to attend courses online at Southern Utah University.
Courtesy Best Friends Animal Society
Media Contact
Michelle Sathe : 661-803-2909 or

(Kanab, UT) - Best Friends Animal Society recently awarded four Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah (PITU) members with scholarships to professional development courses at Southern Utah University (SUU). Scholarship recipients Eric Pikyavit, Jeremy Garcia Standing Solder, Kara Tso and Lorena Jake were each offered the Principles of Contemporary Animal Services Certificate course and Studies in Contemporary Animal Services course. The two online courses were curated by Best Friends and are delivered through SUU’s Community & Professional Development (CPD) department.

“It was great to be part of the first scholarship awards and I look forward to seeing the difference this makes in the lives of the students and our communities and the four-legged,” said PITU Tribal Administrator Shane Parashonts.

Each recipient will start with the Principles of Contemporary Animal Service Certificate which began on May 15, and is a course that is for anyone wanting to learn more about animal services and the course also covers the history of animal welfare in the United States, the role of an animal shelter, and programs that make a difference in saving pets in communities.

The second course each scholarship recipient will take is the Studies of Contemporary Animal Services Course which is offered starting July 5th and is also open to anyone wishing to learn more about the career opportunities in animal services.  It covers the proven policies, programs, and procedures necessary for a lifesaving animal services organization. The course layouts what an effective animal services department looks like programmatically and operationally and presents an opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of what success looks in this field.  

“We are excited about the growth of this program. Our goal is to continue to evolve our offerings and generate awareness about their availability to the public,” said Aimee Charlton, Senior Manager of Learning and Higher Education at Best Friends Animal Society.  

A partnership between Best Friends and SUU commenced in Dec. 2019 and quickly transformed into an Executive Leadership Certification through SUU CPD and a concentration in Contemporary Animal Services Leadership (CASL) as part of the SUU Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS) program. Since its inception 1,015 students have participated in animal services courses through CPD and 16 students have graduated with a MIS degree, with eight graduating in 2023.

According to Best Friends Learning Advancement Director, Tawny Hammond, “The more students we can graduate means more leaders in more communities throughout the United States.  The foundation of all our coursework focuses on a lifesaving first approach to animal services and is a crucial component of eliminating the killing of healthy and treatable pets in animal shelters.”

Earlier this year, Best Friends announced a commitment to offer a scholarship for an SUU Online General Studies bachelor's degree with a focus in Contemporary Animal Services, as well as four seats to multiple professional development certificate courses to PITU members. The Best Friends Animal Society and SUU scholarships will be offered once a year for five years, with a cumulative value of $78,640.

In addition to bringing new potential leaders into the field with scholarships to foundational courses like those described above, the BFAS/SUU partnership also has a concentration in Contemporary Animal Services Leadership (CASL) which is part of the SUU Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS) program.

2023 SUU MIS graduate Dawn Isenhart, who operates Lulu’s Locker Rescue in honor of her son and the cat who provided pivotal support to her son growing up, attended classes online but made the trip to Cedar City for the graduation ceremony.

“When I first started in animal welfare, there was very little guidance, let alone formal training. When I saw Best Friends partner with Southern Utah University, I knew this was the path I needed to finish my master’s degree. I am so excited that this partnership will create educational opportunities for current and future animal service leaders,” Isenhart said. Isenhart will continue her work with the rescue, but her ultimate goal is to eventually teach to help further the profession.

In Kanab, 2023 SUU MIS graduate Jess Roper found that the course helped her connect with like-minded colleagues and gain insight on working with others in animal welfare.

“One of the most important things I learned was how to motivate people through modern leadership principles and how to help others learn new things effectively. When I enrolled, I wanted to learn everything I could, but I wasn't sure how it might influence my career. Even before I graduated, I received a promotion in part thanks to the skills and connections I built through the program,” said Roper, an operations coordinator at Best Friends Animal Society’s Sanctuary.

For more information on the courses and programs offered through the Best Friends Animal Society/Southern Utah University collaboration, visit:

SUU’s Community and Professional Development department offers opportunities for adults to elevate their careers, stay competitive in the workforce and develop as leaders. Located in the world’s best backyard, Southern Utah University is world renowned for its access to outdoor recreation and National Park Service. Reach your next career peak with SUU by visiting 

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 400,000 last year. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 4,700 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit