The Evolution of The Academy of Pet Careers: A 30-Year Journey

APC Team Photo 23

On July 1, 1993, the birth of the Petropolis Academy took place. Established under the patronage of Petropolis Pet Resort and its visionary, Dr. Paul Schifano, The Petropolis Academy was inaugurated with the introduction of its first dog grooming program. But this initial semester was quickly and unexpectedly interrupted. 

Petropolis Grooming Academy

In August 1993, the infamous flood of '93 devastated Chesterfield Valley, forcing all local businesses, including The Petropolis Academy, to suspend operations. After three challenging months of reconstruction and resilience, the academy reopened November 19, 1993, returning to its regular class schedule with renewed determination. 

Petropolis Flood 1993

As the academy grew, its mission evolved to meet the expanding needs of the pet care industry. On January 31, 2001, the academy ambitiously branched out into dog training, broadening its educational scope and adding another skill set to its curriculum.  

Petropolis Training Academy

A pivotal point in the academy's history occurred in 2017 when new leadership was hired. With a goal to develop a national brand, the school was renamed The Academy of Pet Careers (APC). The following year, APC identified a crucial gap in the industry - the need for improved quality of care. In response, it implemented a mission of Pet Empowerment. This paradigm shift led to the addition of a new animal behavior class, enabling pet professionals to better comprehend animal needs and how they communicate. The dog training curriculum was also revamped under the guidance of a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, shifting from punishment-based methods to a more compassionate, reward-based approach.

Jody PEP Class

In 2019, APC underwent a change in ownership when it was bought by Joseph and Jennifer Schifano, thereby gaining independence from Petropolis. However, the relationship continues to this day as they share a mission and a facility.

APC Owners Jennifer Schifano (Left) and Joseph Schifano (Right)

2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the world, and APC was no exception. The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 necessitated the shutdown of businesses across the greater St. Louis area. At this time, APC and Petropolis were mid-way through constructing a new 35,000 square foot facility in St. Charles, MO. After a forced hiatus, they reopened and utilized the additional space to launch a third program in Veterinary Assisting. 

The Academy of Pet Careers St. Charles Campus

Fast forward to July 1, 2023, exactly thirty years since its inception, APC continues to be a frontrunner in pet education despite the hurdles it has faced. With four successful product launches, a change of ownership, relocation, and overcoming both a natural disaster and a global pandemic, it's a testament to their resilience and commitment. As the only hands-on pet career school in the country offering such a diverse range of trades, the APC is not just transforming the lives of its students but also significantly impacting the pets they serve. 

Joseph Schifano Author Headshot
Joseph Schifano

Joseph Schifano is the President of The Academy of Pet Careers and the Founder of DogNerdly.

With over 20 years of professional pet experience, Joseph began his journey as the owner/operator of a successful seven-figure pet care business. He later acquired The Academy of Pet Careers, aiming to elevate the quality of care provided by industry professionals. This position enabled him to connect with leading experts in the field and deepen his knowledge in all aspects of pet care.