Animal Friends Academy

Like its adult counterpart Animal Friends University (AFU), Animal Friends Academy (AFA) is home to exciting educational opportunities all about pets! Designed with young learners, future pet owners and tomorrow’s animal professionals in mind, AFA offers a growing list of hands-on classes and workshops during out-of-school hours. Signing up for an AFA experience will nurture the animal lover in every child, while providing opportunities to connect with peers, learn how to be an animal caregiver or even brainstorm solutions for a humane and compassionate world.

We Time Weekends  New Offering!

We invite your school-age child to read to a trained Therapet participating in Animal Friends’ Pet-Assisted Literacy Program. Reading to a companion animal can be a great way to enhance a child’s literacy skills and foster a love of reading! 

Did you know that reading to a companion animal can have many benefits for a child, such as: 

  • Motivation: An animal can make reading more fun and rewarding for a child, especially if they get to choose the book and the animal is friendly and attentive.
  • Confidence: An animal can provide a non-judgmental and supportive listener for a child who may feel less anxious and embarrassed about making mistakes or reading slowly.
  • Fluency: An animal can help a child practice reading aloud and improve their speed, accuracy, and expression as they read the same book or passage multiple times.
  • Reading for a Purpose: An animal can also benefit from the attention and kindness of a child who may feel a sense of purpose and responsibility when they read to an animal.

Registration also includes: 

  • Activity bags to go  
  • Exploration time in our Humane Education Engagement Center, which will focus on the theme “Spread Some Holiday Chow.”  Families are welcome to experience various activities focusing on healthy pet nutrition and food safety; families are also encouraged to bring a pet-food donation to contribute to our “Donation Station” (which benefits the Chow Wagon here at Animal Friends). 

Date: Sundays, Jan., 14, Feb., 11 and Mar., 10

Time: 12:30-2:30 pm (timeslots are offered in 15-minute increments)

Location:  Animal Friends’ Library

Tuition: No cost to attend

Registration Link:  Humane Education at Animal Friends (office365.com) 

** Please note that any  families who visit Animal Friends on “We Time Weekends” (not just those who register to read with a Therapet) are welcome to stop into the Humane Education Engagement Center for an activity bag and to spend time learning how to “Spread Some Holiday Chow.” 

“Pets” Badge Day for Brownie Troops

Troops of animal-loving Brownies are invited to Animal Friends to complete steps towards earning the “Pets” Badge. (The troop leaders will provide the actual “Pets” Badge. We will provide an Animal Friends’ fun patch.) Detailed steps outlined below.

Session One

Date: Sunday, January 28 –  registration closed

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

Tuition: $15 per Brownie 

Reservation deadline: Thursday, January 18 by 5:00 p.m.

Refund request deadline: Tuesday, January 23 by 5:00 p.m.

Session Two

Date: Sunday, April 28   Register

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

Tuition: $15 per Brownie 

Reservation deadline: Thursday, April 18 by 5:00 p.m.

Refund request deadline: Tuesday, April 23 by 5:00 p.m.

Reservation Guidelines

  • This event is not appropriate for Brownies/chaperones who are allergic to or afraid of dogs, cats, or rabbits.
  • Our staff photographer may be taking photos at the event. Troop leaders should make troop parents aware of Animal Friends’ policy* regarding event photos. *Please be aware that your entrance to Animal Friends at this event serves as your voluntary agreement to appear onscreen or in print as part of this or any other related media or promotions, in perpetuity.
  • Complete payment must be received to secure a troop reservation. Once a payment has been made, additional scouts may not be added to a troop’s headcount.
  • Refunds will be made for scouts who cannot attend if requests for refunds are made to Donna Klingelhofer by the refund deadline listed below.
  • If you have questions about this event, please email Donna at AFU@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

At the Event

  • Space is limited. No Daisies, Junior Girl Scouts or siblings may attend.
  • Each group should have at least two chaperones but no more than four.
  • Parking is limited. Please carpool.
  • Check-in will be held between 9:40-9:55 a.m. Troops arriving before 9:40 a.m. are asked to please wait in their vehicles until staff can welcome you into the center.

Step 1: Find out what kind of care different pets need.  Our day will begin by examining our own needs as human beings to provide the foundation for a deeper understanding and connection with our animal friends.  Scouts will then be given the opportunity to witness first-hand what our animal residents need by going on a tour of our facility.  Upon conclusion of the tour, scouts will discover and discuss the needs of pets through a rousing game of “Animal Friends Bingo!” (*Note: we will not be playing the “pet bingo game” as we do not house six of the pictured animals.  However, scouts will be able to answer all relevant questions relating to dogs, cats, and rabbits by the end of our time together, allowing them to play the game with their troops at one of their meetings afterwards.) 

Step 2: Keep a pet comfy.  Scouts will be assigned one of the three core animals (dogs, cats, and rabbits) that we serve at AF, will review what they observed during the tour, and will work together to design and create a safe, comfortable sleeping space for their assigned animals.   

Step 3: Help a pet stay healthy and safe.  Scouts will learn about grooming needs of dogs, cats, and rabbits.  How often do they need to be brushed?  Do they need to be bathed?  Why do some pets need to have their fur cut?  Scouts will learn the answers to these questions as well as special care tips. 

Step 4: Make a pet feel loved.  Scouts will learn about animal communication and how our pets can tell us how they’re feeling using body language.  After a few rounds of “pet language charades”, scouts will learn how the concept of “consent” applies to the ways in which we should interact with our animal companions.  At that point, scouts will be able to practice what they’ve learned through visiting with one of our Therapets! 

Step 5: Feed a pet.  Scouts will be asked to design a feeding plan and budget for their assigned pets, before going on a mock shopping trip to fulfill the nutritional needs of their companion animals.   

Camps  New Offering!

Grade levels listed below indicate the camper’s current grade level. We do not register youths outside of their grade level except to accommodate neurovariance. If this applies to your child, please contact us before registering.  For the safety of the children and animals, all campers must be able to follow verbal directions or be accompanied by an adult assistant.

Animal Friends’ camps are not appropriate for students who are allergic to or fearful of dogs, cats or rabbits. Animal Friends is not a nut-free facility.

Campers should bring a light non-perishable snack and a refillable water bottle to camp each day.

We do not provide any pre- or post-camp childcare for campers.

  • Drop-off begins ten minutes before the start time listed for the camp session.
  • Pick-up should be within ten minutes of the end time of the camp session.  Caregivers will be invited to a special Show What You Know presentation for campers during the last 15 minutes of camp on Friday.

Online Registration

Registration for summer camp must be completed online. We are unable to accept paper or walk-in registrations. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and PayPal.

Due to parental permission slips and required medical information, only the parent or legal guardian of the camper may complete the registration process.

Camps sell out quickly!

Before registering, please scroll down this page to be sure the camp of your choosing is not already sold out. If you would like your name added to a wait list for a sold out camp, please provide your name, phone number and the specific name of the camp you are interested in attending, in an email to Donna, Animal Friends University, at AFU@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

Confirmations

Once online registration is complete for a particular camp, you will receive a confirmation email shortly thereafter.  If you do not receive the confirmation email, please contact us at AFU@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org. Approximately one week prior to the start of camp, you will receive a reminder email.

Camp Cancellation Policy

To receive a refund for the camp, the refund request must be received no later than one week prior to the start date of the registered camp. Refund requests should be sent to Donna at AFU@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org. Refund requests received after that date will not be accepted, and the tuition will be considered a donation to Animal Friends.

Inclement Weather Cancellation Policy

In the event of inclement weather and to keep everyone participating in the camp safe at home, you will be notified by email/text of any cancellations. When possible, we will give notice by 5:00 pm the day prior to the start of camp. Full refunds will be offered if Animal Friends cancels due to inclement weather.

ChangeMakers: Camps 

For learners currently in grades K-1 OR 2-4.

Surrounded by dog, cat, and rabbit friends, campers will dive into the world of Animal Friends, while imagining bigger, better, and more beautiful places and spaces for animals in need of care, housing, training, or simply love.  Armed with architects’ tools of the trade – maps and plans, tape measures, colorful pencils, and model-building supplies galore – campers will design fun and visionary model animal shelters to take home and share.  Whether for furry, scaly, feathered, or finned animal friends, campers’ miniature creations will show how animal shelters can make life better for animals and the people who care for them. ChangeMakers is limited to 12 campers per session.

Session 1:

Campers in Kindergarten or 1st grade 

Dates: Wednesday-Friday |

Time: 9:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Tuition: $125 per child

Session 2:

Campers in grades 2, 3, 4 

Dates: Wednesday-Friday |

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Tuition: $125 per child

ChangeMakers

For learners in grades 3, 4, or 5 in the 2023/2024 school year

Young people who want to make the world a better place for pets and people will have the opportunity to connect with each other and with a variety of artistic tools and techniques, under the guidance of a professional teaching artist.  Do you want to help to end pet homelessness?  Do you want to enrich the lives of dogs, cats, and rabbits?  Do you want to make a difference while experimenting with new artforms?  With support from Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Education Department, ChangeMakers is an opportunity to “think outside the cage” while answering real-world questions with creative and innovative ideas and plenty of animal encounters.  Sign up for one session or both!  Become a ChangeMaker and make what matters!

Session One

Date: Saturday, Please check back for future session!

Time: 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Tuition: $30 per child/session

Session Two

Date: Saturday, Please check back for future session!

Time: 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Tuition: $30 per child/session

To learn more about arts-education opportunities at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, visit: https://trustarts.org/pct_home/education