IAHAIO was officially incorporated as a not-for-profit NGO in the State of Washington, USA in 1992. Before this time, there was a lot of activity undertaken by groups of scholars across the globe hosting international conferences dedicated to Human-Animal Interactions. These were held in London (1977), Philadelphia (1980), Vienna (1983), Boston (1986) and Monaco (1989).
After the Monaco meeting there was a meeting in Toronto 1990, Canada, where representatives from AFIRAC (France), the Delta Society (USA), Delta Australia, HABAC (Canada), IEMT (Austria) and SCAS (UK) decided to turn their long standing working relationship into a formal Association. The seventh organization, The Human Animal Contact Study Group from South Africa had sent a message in support of the move. Dr. Sam Ahmedzai (SCAS, UK), was the first President, and Linda Hines, director of the Delta Society (USA), was elected Secretary of IAHAIO in 1992.
Founding member organisations
The initial National Members of IAHAIO (now known as Full Members of IAHAIO) were: AFIRAC, France; Delta Society of Australia; Ethologia Belgium; Delta Society USA; Dyrene Og Vi, Norway, Forschungskreis Heimtiere in der Gesellschaft, Germany; Human-Animal Bond Association of Canada (HABAC); Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on the Human-Pet Relationship (IEMT-Switzerland); Society for Companion Animal Studies, England; Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on the Human-Pet Relationship (IEMT-Austria); Manimalis, Sweden; The Human-Animal Contact Study Group in South Africa.
From 1992 the Conferences went on as IAHAIO conferences: Montreal (1992), Geneva (1995) and Prague (1998), Rio (2001), Glasgow (2004), Tokyo (2007), Stockholm (2010), Chicago (2013) and most recently, Paris (2016).
Today, IAHAIO has over 90 member organisations across the globe and it remains true to its roots – providing a global platform for researchers and practitioners in HAI to network and promote the benefits and best practice of human-animal interactions. IAHAIO conferences and events remain central to our mission and we continue to respond to the needs expressed by our members and by the field in general. Recent initiatives include:
- An online forum for member organisations and for researchers and practitioners
- An open access, peer reviewed journal, People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice (PAIJ)
- Symposia/workshops held between international conferences
- The creation of two new IAHAIO awards to recognise outstanding individuals in research and practice in HAI and AAI
- Leading the way in the promotion of best practice in animal-assisted interventions, therapy and activities, through the IAHAIO White Paper, endorsed by all IAHAIO members
- Establishment of an international task-force to promote best practice in AAI and improve animal welfare standards
- Publication of a bi-monthly newsletter with the latest HAI happenings, for members, supporters and the public