Develop your management leadership skills to help increase lifesaving in animal shelters.

Shelters that are run efficiently, using a data-driven plan of action, are essential to saving more animals’ lives in your community and beyond, and it starts from the top of the organization. The ways that shelters are managed play a big role in saving the lives of pets. 

As you work to complete this six-month program, you’ll develop the leadership skills you’ll need to help save the lives of more pets in your community.

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The Management Leadership Certification Program is geared toward animal services managers, coordinators and supervisors.



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What you’ll learn 

Once enrolled in the certificate course you’ll learn all about how management leadership can drive lifesaving change in your organization and community.

Presented in collaboration with Southern Utah University (SUU), the program was developed to provide key shelter staff with the knowledge and support necessary to influence and manage change within their organizations. 

You’ll also learn about proven policies, procedures and programs that can meet your community’s lifesaving needs. We’ll show you how to create a data-driven action plan.  

Topics covered include understanding the evolution of animal welfare, defining management leadership, practicing well-being and resilience, making data-driven management decisions, influencing change as a manager, evaluating lifesaving programs, removing barriers to adoption, planning pilot programs, managing change and leading people.

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What to expect 

This course includes online modules that offer text, audio and video content, as well as assessments, discussions, quizzes and written reflections. 

Each week, you’ll be asked to complete two to three hours of assignments and journaling exercises to help you gain a better understanding of the course topics. You’ll also have the chance to participate in discussions with fellow students, along with a 90-minute cohort call.  

The course structure includes learning materials with practical and research-based examples from the field, regular access to industry leaders and subject-matter experts, a community to learn from and provide support, opportunities to gather every week as a group, one-on-one meetings with facilitators, small group sessions and regular weekly office hours with the course instructor.

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Benefits of the program 

You'll leave the course having created a personal development action plan, an organizational action plan and a pilot program action plan.

You’ll also be able to speak clearly about what success looks like in animal services management, and you’ll know what strong leadership skills look like, preparing you to make changes for the animals in your community and beyond.  

Upon graduation, you’ll earn six academic credits. These six credits may matriculate into an SUU bachelor’s degree, a master of interdisciplinary studies degree or a master of public administration degree.  

What past participants have to say about the program 

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
MLC Graduate and Adoption Supervisor
Anderson County PAWS, Anderson, SC
Brandy Ellison
“This course turned out to be exactly what I was looking for before I knew I was looking for it!”
Brandy Ellison
MLC graduate and Director of Inbound Operations
Young-Williams Animal Center, Knoxville, TN
Kathleen Garrand
“As a new manager I appreciated having a group to reassure me. We all struggle. I’ve learned to take it day by day and work toward the greater good.”
Kathleen Garrand
MLC graduate and Animal Care & Enrichment Manager
Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, Gainnesville, GA
Brande Kupfer
“The well-being and resilience module helped me learn to monitor myself. I’m less stressed at work and my team is less stressed, too.”
Brande Kupfer
MLC graduate and Intake Supervisor
Anderson County PAWS, Anderson, SC
Danielle Rutherford
“This course helped me to learn about building trust and relationships with my team and with our shelter partners, too.”
Danielle Rutherford
MLC graduate and Shelter Supervisor
Memphis Animal Services, Memphis, TN

Ready to up your lifesaving game? 

Tell us that you’re interested in the Best Friends Management Leadership Certification Program, and we’ll let you know when the next session opens for enrollment.

If you still have questions, email us at