The IAHAIO White Paper

IAHAIO is committed to working with practitioners to adopt best practice when delivering animal assisted interventions, to ensure the health and well-being of people and animals involved.

The IAHAIO White Paper: Definitions for Animal Assisted Intervention and Guidelines for Wellness of Animals Involved was published in 2014, endorsed by all IAHAIO members.

It outlines best practices in delivering AAI to ensure the health and well-being of people and animals involved in an AAI setting – an essential document for anyone involved in AAI.

IAHAIO members, as part of the terms and conditions of membership, are asked to adhere to the principles set out in the White Paper.


Challenges facing the field of HAI at an international level are numerous. For example, the numerous and various terminologies of Animal Assisted Intervention result in confusion. There is also a dearth of guidelines regarding those involved, especially concerning the animals.

Recognising the urgency to address the issues above, IAHAIO established an international task force in 2013 charged with the responsibility of clarifying and making recommendations on AAI terminologies and definitions and outlining ethical practices for the wellbeing of animals involved.

Those appointed to serve on the task force were academics, veterinary medicine professionals and practitioners from different countries with a background in, or special knowledge of different dimensions in the field of Human-Animal Interaction (HAI)

The recommendations of the task force are the result of a year of thorough, thoughtful and candid discussion. The IAHAIO Board reviewed all suggested revisions made by the majority of members at the 2014 AGM in Amsterdam and those that were unanimously supported by the Board have been included.

In 2018, the White Paper was updated to include a definition of animal-assisted coaching and the definition of the One Health and One Welfare approach in AAI. Translations in 15 different languages are being prepared.


IAHAIO encourages its members to have these definitions and guidelines adopted and implemented in theory, research and practice as they stand in their own programs and those of others working within the geographic range of the member’s organisation.

IAHAIO also recommends that its members promote these definitions and guidelines in their respective countries.

Download the White Paper