We are a non-profit organization supporting Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs)

2021-2022 State of AAII

AAII celebrates our official legal 9th anniversary on February 7th!

We invite you to celebrate with us by posting brief commentaries about your favorite things within your own day to day AAIs & we want to see your dogs between now and February 15th! Don’t forget to say Happy Birthday to AAII!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/288639221245400


While the past two years have required us to distance, in many ways we are closer than ever. At this point in time, we have so many shared experiences, so many stories of change and of loss.  But if we can take a step back to reflect on other things the pandemic has brought, we can begin to heal, gain strength, and move forward.  We have become resilient and adaptable, flexible and more creative. Many AAI programs seemed to come to a sudden halt, but that brought time for reflection and reorganization for the next chapter.  We have all learned so much over the past two years.


So many speakers in AAIs and dog training delivered incredible workshops and strategies that made us better handlers and caregivers to our animals, and better practitioners in our specialty areas. We learned new online platforms, and suddenly all of our worlds came together again as we shared the same classrooms, experiences, wisdom, and exchanged ideas with just one click! We also cultivated new relationships.


AAII has been working with the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) on several short and long term professional development projects, together we have fostered additional collaborations with several other international organizations specializing in AAIs. We are all coming together to professionalize AAIs at an international level, representing different regions, disciplines and organizations. Our world-wide collaboration on social media is called The International Consortium for Animal Assisted Interventions (IC-AAI).  We anticipate exploration of several professional issues, and hope you will consider being a part of the discussion.


The Board of Directors and working group members found themselves dedicating a lot of time and energy fine-tuning Standards, Competencies and modifying accreditation to better fit the outcomes of a world pandemic. After years of reviewing literature, public visionary meetings and working groups, we believe we have developed the most complete standards. Then, with your help, and with a solid foundation from Dr. Leslie Stewart, we built competencies that are meant to guide our members in offering the most ethical and knowledgeable practices. Those two official documents made it possible to build a peer reviewed accreditation process. AAII now offers 3 different accreditations tracks: By portfolio, virtually and in-person. As of January 2022, we have successfully accredited 4 of our ‘test’ member organizations (2 in the US and 2 in Europe), each having gone through all 3 accreditation tracks. We will release the official application for accreditation soon in a member forum.


Our 2021 non-traditional virtual conference was well-received with speakers offering our members additional free or discounted coursework. Our video library of webinars and conference sessions will soon be available. Finally, we now host AAII Thursdays at 11:00 am (US- Eastern Time), 16:00 (UK GMT) as follows. Please check social media to see if something is scheduled.


  • 1st or 3rd Thursday of month is our board meeting/committees/working groups
  • 2nd Thursday of the month is member forums
  • 4th Thursday of the month is for webinars


We invite our members to submit webinars or workshops just like you would for conference. They will be live and recorded so we may offer consistent continuing education to our members. We will likely have a virtual conference for 2022 between September and December- we will make announcements soon. Contact Phoebe for inquiries at coordinator@aai-int.org.


Cheers to all of you for a healthier and happier 2022!

Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA, CPDT-KA

AAII Co-founder and President

Griz & Gertie Photo Credit Winkle.

  • Note, Gertie is wearing a FitBark that tracks location and activity. It is not an aversive device.