International taskforce

Development of IAHAIO’s international Standards of Best Practice in Animal-Assisted Interventions and Animal Welfare

IAHAIO is creating international guidelines for best practice in AAI.  Building on the IAHAIO White Paper Definitions for Animal Assisted Intervention and Guidelines for Wellness of Animals Involved, (published in 2014 and revised in 2018), IAHAIO has established an international, multi-disciplinary task force on ‘Standards of Best Practice in Animal-Assisted Interventions and Animal Welfare.’ to undertake this important work.

IAHAIO recognises that excellent work is already taking place in AAI programmes across the globe and that there are good examples of sound protocols that have already been developed. Members of this task force will work together and build on existing good practice and develop international guidelines for future practice, including education and training of people working with animals, animal selection and animal welfare issues.

The IAHAIO international guidelines will serve the wider aims of:

  • Bringing greater professionalism to the field
  • Improve uptake in the field
  • Enhance client and public confidence in the field
  • Enhance the quality of AAI programmes

Who are the guidelines aimed at?

These guidelines are aimed at practitioners who are delivering AAI, across different settings, client populations and species of animal. IAHAIO acknowledges that differences exist in how AAI is delivered in different countries across the globe, often influenced by cultural and other factors. These guidelines will seek to identify key features of AAI practice that the international AAI community endorse as essential to delivering safe, effective programmes.  The guidelines will be based on existing good practice and evidence and research to support this.

What topics will the guidelines cover?

The IAHAIO international guidelines will:

  • Outline the minimum standards for the delivery of AAI
  • Outline ways to protect the welfare of animals involved in AAI
  • Describe the appropriate selection of animals involved in AA
  • Identify minimum training standards for animals involved in AAI
  • Describe considerations for client selection
  • Outline how human health, well-being and safety can be achieved
  • Outline key features of effective AAI programme development and delivery
  • Describe ways in which AAI programmes can be evaluated and outcomes documented

What are the anticipated outcomes and timescales?

Based on completed recommendations an action plan will be prepared and disseminated widely. There are several phases to this project and good progress is being made on the first phase – review of existing protocols and compilation of references and resources. Future phases will involve consultation and review with members of the task force and other key AAI organizations. It is anticipated that the first set of guidelines, focusing on animal care and welfare across species, will be published and disseminated from Spring 2021.

Members of the task force

The task force is chaired by chaired by Dr Elizabeth Ormerod, a veterinarian and Vice President Membership (IAHAIO) from the UK, Dr Brinda Jegatheesan, a professor of psychology and Vice President Development (IAHAIO) from the USA, Dr Karin Hediger, psychologist and Vice President Education (IAHAIO) from Switzerland and IAHAIO Director, Jo-Ann Fowler. IAHAIO President prof dr.  Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers has oversight of the project.

IAHAIO is most grateful for the support and participation of several IAHAIO members and other international experts from across the globe, including USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Eastern Europe, South Africa, Asia, South America and Australia, who are working across five specialist groups focused on specific areas.

Visiting programmes:  Callie Cozzolino (USA) (Co-heads), Andrea Beetz (Germany) Claude Beata (France), Shirley Chen (Taiwan), Marine Grandgeorge (France), Agnieszka Potocka (Poland), Taylor Johnson (USA), Michal Pregowski (Poland), Keiko Yamazaki (Japan)

With special thanks to Ann Howie (USA) for her work as previous head of this group

Equid programmes: Kathy Alm (USA) (Head) Karen Aspery (Australia), Terri Brosnan (Ireland), Nina Ekholm-Fry (USA),  Nicky French,  Sian Sharples (UK), Helene Viruega (France), Roswitha Zink (Austria)

Resident programmes with farm species programmes: Michael Kaufmann (USA) (Head), Bente Berget (Norway), Samantha Hough (USA), Lena Lidfors (Sweden), Maureen McNemara (USA), Ingrid Stephan (Germany), Karen Thodberg (Denmark)

With special thanks to Luca Farina (Italy) for his work as previous head of this group

Resident programmes with small animals: Zenith Ng (USA) (Head), Katie Bristow (UK),  Joan Dalton (USA), Robert Mitchell (USA),

Rainer Wohlfarth (Germany)

With special thanks to Jennifer Henley for her work as previous head of this group

Community programmes: Philip Tedeschi (USA), Erica Elvove (USA)  and Naoko Yoshida  (Japan) (Co-heads), Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers (Netherlands), Phyllis Erdman (USA), Belinda Johnston (UK), Alicia Kennedy (Australia), Nancy Parish-Plass (Israel), Hollie Sevenoaks (UK)

IAHAIO has also created a scientific advisory panel, comprising ethologists, microbiologists, animal welfare specialists and ethicists, who are consulted for specialist advice. Members include:

Animal Welfare

Temple Grandin (USA)

David Fraser (Canada)

Frederick  Hurley (South. Africa)

David Morton (UK),

Joy Leney (UK)


Ian Wright (UK)

Veerasamy Karupunathevar (India)

Clifford Warwick (UK)

Peter Rabinowitz (USA)