February 7th, 2019 marked our 6th year anniversary as a legal entity. Things have certainly changed since the establishment of AAII. In 2018 and early 2019, we exceeded our goals for growth and development! Our committed working group members continued to support AAII by strengthening our Standards of Practice, finalizing Recommended Competencies, developing the requested Raw Diet Policy, development of short power points for use by our members during presentations about AAII, our accreditation process has been modified, and we are in the planning stages for the 2019 AAII Annual Conference in Italy!
The Standards of Practice now have cited literature that prompted the documents development, we were successfully able to address what has been historically lacking in AAIs. Our working groups have completed citation support for Section 1: The Standards of Practice for the Health, Welfare and Well-being of Dogs and for Section 3: Standards of Practice for the Ethical Treatment and Welfare of Participants. These two sections impact every member of AAII and it is reassuring that we are on the right path in this journey.
During the 2018 AAII Conference we were honored to have Dr. Leslie Stewart as a guest in our competencies working group, and it resulted in AAII modifying and adopting the standards she had recently published. Another working group initiated the Raw Diet Policy. Finally, we initiated a working group for the development of tiered Competencies for Dog Handlers, Trainers and Instructors. We look forward to prioritizing this working group the remainder of 2019. If you are interested in contributing to this working group, please contact AAII.
We are most excited about unveiling the Accreditation Process! This project was initiated in 2014 at the Denver Visionary Meeting and has been in progress since then. Whether you participated in one meeting or stayed with us through the 5 years of drafts and ongoing working groups, we could not have produced this without you. Thank you to all who committed their time, energy and expertise to building AAII. We have a lot to show for the fruits of your labor.
Finally, we announce our 2019 AAII Annual Conference at the beautiful Villa Arvedi in the village of Grezzana, near Verona, Italy. This is not a conventional business conference setting. It is outside of any major city limits, is very historical and boasts peaceful gardens for reflection of all we will learn. Please take time to enjoy the link that we have provided. You will not want to miss this conference. We will soon post more information for airports and several quaint private hotel choices with special conference rates.
Following the release of the Standards, Recommended Competencies and the Accreditation process our 2019 conference theme is Professionalizing the Practice of AAIs. There is an art and a science to AAIs and we are calling for presenters who will address professional issues, responsibilities and literature that will ensure the quality of this rapidly growing work. Watch the website and your email for the official Call for Presenters and conference details as they come in.
Thank you for your support in building AAII and our benchmarks for excellence in the animal assisted intervention realm. I look forward to seeing you in Italy, October 15th and 16th, 2019.
Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA
President, Animal Assisted Intervention International