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

February 7th, 2020 marked our 7th year anniversary as a legal entity. The state of the pandemic crisis around the world leaves us with heavy hearts for all the fear, uncertainty, illness and losses that are now all too commonplace. With the current crisis, AAII announces that our Annual Conference in Zagreb, Croatia (September/October 2020) has been cancelled. We are not rescheduling at this time, but will be investigating other online options for continuing education. If you have extensive knowledge in this area, please contact me personally at melissa@dogwoodtherapy.com I saw a social media post today that said something to the effect of.

We don’t need to socially distance, we need to physically distance.
Let’s socially come together and support each other.

You are all very important to us, and to each other. AAII reminds you to take care of yourselves and take care of each other, family, friends, neighbors and those who are vulnerable. You can do this by avoiding spreading the virus. Stay home, use your voice and talk to others on the phone, write more, read more, play training games with your dog’s more, take this time to increase your own knowledge and perhaps the knowledge of others. Many people are doing short, fun and informational videos for AAA, AAT, AAE and AS areas. If you are so inclined make a video and send us a link. You can post your videos on You Tube, for example, and it will give you a link to share. We are happy to post it in the AAII Members Only Facebook Group. Share activities, training tips, program development, a presentation you have done in the past, or anything related to AAIs. If you are not a member of the AAII Members Only Facebook group, just look us up, and send us a message with your current membership number. Let’s create some social support for each other and create opportunities to grow and find some happiness during this difficult time. We are all in this together. We all send you our thoughts, prayers and positive energy to stay safe and healthy.

Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA, CPDT-KA
President, Animal Assisted Intervention International

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

February 7th marks our 5th year anniversary as a legal entity. 2017 was an incredibly fruitful year for AAII’s growth! Many of you attended the 2017 AAII Conference in Vienna, and contributed to the working groups for standards, the accreditation process, and the guidance notes.

After two of our United States member organizations gave the accreditation process a trial, we realized there was some clarifications and adjustments to be made. Our board member working group is now in the final phase of revisions, so our USA test members can try it again. Once we successfully complete our accreditation documents, then we will be ready for the on-site visit portion of accreditation. This is big news around the world as there are very few international governing bodies that are represented, developed by and agreed upon by so many member countries.

YOU, our members, make this all possible and worthwhile! YOU make a difference in the lives of students, patients, clients, healthcare and human service providers, and the dogs who serve them all. YOU have driven this process from our infancy until now. And we will continue to be a member driven organization that is dedicated to the practice of all types of animal assisted interventions. We take great pride that our members help develop our structure.

We look forward to the new year as our 2018 AAII Conference will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA on August 16th (Member Development Meeting), with the actual conference being on the 17th & 18th. Our conference will be just before the Assistance Dogs International Conference, August 19th-23rd, also in Minneapolis. One of AAII’s Affiliate Members, Pet Partners, will also be inviting organizations from outside the US to become evaluators for their incredible volunteer visiting organization on the 19th as they expand to offer Pet Partners internationally. A lot of teaching and learning opportunities will be happening in Minnesota in August 2018! We will send out a call for presenters in the next few weeks.

Thank you for all for your input, your membership, and your passion in further developing and strengthening animal assisted interventions around the globe. Cheers to the new year at AAII, may we all stand united and strong! I can’t wait to see what the new year brings, and to see you at the conference! Happy 5th Anniversary AAII!

Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA

Welcome to another productive year with Animal Assisted Intervention International!

It has been 9 years since a group in Europe began collaborating with a group in the US to build AAII. Our sister organization, Assistance Dogs International has been by our side along the way to offer mentorship, collaboration, and to share conferences. Our conferences in Belgium and the U.S. were well attended, and the networking was phenomenal. AAII Standards of Practice are being adopted all over the world, and our collaborative projects continue to gain momentum. Last year, we hosted a member development meeting in Croatia and began work on an accreditation system. The framework has been built and we are currently developing the process. Thank you to all who participated via Spa & US conferences, Croatia development meeting, by phone, skype and email. We are proud that the system is produced in conjunction with members, and remain respectful that each of our regions make have subtle differences.

Over the past year, our membership base has grown to include organizations and individuals from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North and South America. What a small world it is, indeed. As President of AAII, I am most proud that we are gaining international reference in articles, journals, and scholar projects. While AAI’s have been in existence for quite some time, it is now becoming a respected area of practices in a variety of disciplines. This year, I am personally being honored with Fellow from the American Occupational Therapy Association specifically for my contributions to animal assisted interventions. This is directly related to all of the work we have done within AAII. So, while the scholarly award has my name on it, I believe it represents OUR work as an organization, and I share it with all of you who have made AAII what it is today.

The next year proves to be very fruitful for AAII.  The 2016 AAII conference “Building a Voice for the Future” is May 14th and 15th, in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. In addition, our working groups will begin working on the individual sections of the accreditation process, which will surely take animal assisted intervention to a new level. The implications will ensure best practices for practitioners, handlers, trainers, dogs, and clients! It is quite an advancement for the field. Thank you for your contributions to this process.

Don’t forget to visit the new website aai-int.org and share it with your colleagues! We also have new contact emails. If you don’t hear from us within 7 days of your request, please check in again. We are still in the midst of big server changes. We will release more specific email addresses as they become active.

President – Melissa Winkle

Secretary – Elma Burg-  ElmaBurg@aai-int.org
Office: Friday 11:00-16:00 CET (every even week)