03/18/2015 08:33 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT


LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Children who love to dance, act or play sports have summer camps specialized just for them. But many parents don't realize that kids who are passionate about pets can have the same immersive experience.

Thousands of youngsters ages 6 to 17 will attend day camps this summer at hundreds of animal shelters across the country. The urge to nurture animals starts early — especially with pets becoming key parts of families — giving rise to the popularity of programs that offer budding veterinarians and other young animal lovers a way to help dogs and cats and learn the responsibilities of owning pets.