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

Who we are

The year 2009 brought together a working group of people with outstanding talent and experience in Animal Assisted Interventions and dog training (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA). The brainstorming about purpose, mission and standards went on until February 7th 2013 when AAII became an official European non-profit organization.

AAII is a coalition of individuals and organizations who are administrators, educators, practitioners, dog trainers, program developers, and volunteer visitors.  Our members share strong core values (beliefs that guide attitudes and actions) and ethics (concerned with human actions and the choices made by underlying values).   We collaborate for lifelong learning to improve interactions between AAI facilitators, the animals that work with us, and the beneficiaries at all stages in the AAI continuum.

Animal Assisted Intervention International offers comprehensive Standards of Practice, corresponding Competencies, and a peer reviewed Accreditation process for Full Members.  AAII embraces sharing of quality information amongst our members and with other AAI related organizations to establish world-wide discussions and collaborations. We offer monthly webinars, yearly conferences, and international collaboration for practice, training and research.

The AAII board of directors includes executives, practitioners, educators, dog trainers, researchers and pioneers that represent several membership categories. Scroll down to meet our board members.

We work together with organizations that support and promote our mission
The Affiliate Members and Educational Institution and Organization Members will be approved by the AAII Board. Both memberships will be granted for a 3 year period. The Board can then review and renew the status. Both membership types will be able to register for conferences, workshops, symposia where applicable. They will have the use of the Affiliate or Educational Institution and Organization Membership logo during this period. They pay no membership fees but have no voting rights.
Our commitment to set up a worldwide umbrella

Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII) grew out of many discussions within Assistance Dogs International (especially the European chapter) about how best to support the growing number of organizations working in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy, Education and Activities (together called Animal Assisted Interventions, AAI).
These organizations, many of them also involved in training assistance dogs, lacked an international focus for creating standards, developing professionalism and offering networking opportunities.

An excellent board to cover all disciplines

Melissa Winkle
President of the AAII Board and Occupational Therapst at Dogwood Therapy Services, USA.  Co-Founder AAII.

Melissa Y. Winkle OTR/L, FAOTA, CPDT-KA is an occupational therapist and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.  She is President of Dogwood Therapy Services, an occupational therapy private practice and dog training facility in New Mexico, USA.  Melissa is a founding member and current  President of the European based organization, Animal Assisted Intervention International.  She develops and teaches animal assisted intervention and dog behavior coursework for Oakland University, Center for Human-Animal Interventions, and is a guest lecturer at several other universities.  Melissa is a practitioner, a researcher, a writer and speaks internationally on disability, integrated & community based program development, animal assisted interventions, and service dogs.  She has published a series of books titled Professional Applications of Animal Assisted Interventions, available on Amazon.

Dogwood Therapy Services Inc                            New Mexico, USA


Peter Gorbing
Member of the AAII Board and former Chief Executive of Dogs for Good, UK. Co-Founder AAII.

Peter has worked for Dogs for Good for over 25 years before retiring in late 2022. 

Peter has been a board member and a past President of Assistance Dogs International (ADI), the body responsible for setting standards and accrediting the international assistance dog industry. He is passionate about sharing best practise and helping to improve understanding of the role assistance dogs play in people’s lives.  He has played a significant role in campaigning for better access rights for assistance dogs in the UK and internationally. Peter has also been a Board member of Assistance Dogs Europe (President from 2001 – 2007) and Assistance Dogs (UK).

Peter is a founding director of Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII) and has focused on supporting the development of standards and an accreditation process. Peter has given lectures and presentations on all aspects of AAI in the UK and abroad. 

Peter has an BA(Hons) in Government, an MBA (Masters in Business Administration)  from Cranfield School of Management.

Danny Vancoppernolle
Member of the AAII Board and Secretaris Generaal of Dyadis, Belgium.  Co-Founder AAII.

Danny has been involved in the assistance dog world since 2004.  He is Secretaris General of the Assistance Dog School Dyadis, Brussels, Belgium and he is a Board member of the Guide Dog School, Scale Dogs, Belgium.

Danny is a Board member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI), the body responsible for setting standards and accrediting the international assistance dog industry.  He is passionate about sharing best practice and helping to improve understanding of the role assistance dogs play in people’s lives.  Danny has been President of Assistance Dogs Europe since 2007  (Secretary from 2004 – 2007) and Board member of the Belgian Assistance Dog Federation.

Danny is a founding director of Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII), the international umbrella organization for practitioners in the field of the AAI world and involved since 2009.

Danny is an outstanding organizor and has earned his tracks since 2010 organizing the yearly ADEu and AAII meetings. He is also an excellent, modest speaker and has given lectures and presentations on all aspects of the charity’s work in Belgium, in Europe and the rest of the world.

Dyadis                                                                          Brussels, Belgium


Jennifer Rogers

Member of the AAII Board and Executive Director of PAALS, USA.  Co-Founder AAII.

Jen has over 24 years of combined professional experience with marine mammal, zoo, equine, and assistance dogs training and therapeutic programs.  She is the founder and executive director of PAALS, the only ADI accredited based program in the state of South Carolina. She has a BS in Biology from Rutgers University and is a graduate of the National Education of Assistance Dog programs, and AZA Management of Enrichment and Training programs. Jen is certified in Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, EAGALA, as a horse specialist. Jen is also a founding board member of Animal Assisted Intervention International.

Columbia , SC 29224

+1 803-788-7063

South Carolina, USA

Petra van Benten
Member of the AAII Board and Head Practitioner Animal Assisted Therapy at Hulphond Nederland. NL.

After working at Child Protection Services for many years, Petra made the switch to Animal Assisted Therapy in a Dutch overarching mental health care institute for children and adolescents. Nine years ago Petra introduced AAT to ‘Stichting Hulphond Nederland’, where she has been active ever since as head practitioner of the Therapy and Coaching unit. She is responsible for all the AAT programs, quality of the programs and practitioners and innovation.  She is also active as a practitioner in the program for adults with psychological trauma, working with dogs and horses at Hulphond. Alongside this Petra is also an accredited behavioural therapist and a kynologist trainer.

Hulphond Nederland
The Netherlands

Selina Gibsone
Member of the AAII Board and Development Manager at Dogs for Good, UK.

Selina has worked with dogs and people for over 20 years. She currently works at Dogs for Good, who aim to bring trained dogs and people together to overcome specific challenges and improve the lives of both. Selina is the Development Manager at Dogs for Good, actively working in the development of new initiatives and projects in the areas of assistance dogs and animal assisted intervention (AAI). She has played an active role in working groups to create standards of practice for Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII). Previous to this, Selina worked in several roles at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, and has also provided training and behavior support to pet dog owners. 

Selina has spoken at many conferences as well as providing teaching to organisations over the world on the subjects of assistance dogs and AAI. She has a BSc (Hons) in Animal Biology from the University of St Andrews, an MSc in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling from the University of Southampton, and an MSc in Psychology from Oxford Brookes University.

Dogs for Good
United Kingdom

Member AAE


Member AAA


Member ASPP


A Permanent Board was elected by the members at the first Annual General Meeting (AGM).  This meeting took place on November 5 and November 6 2013 at Spa, Belgium.  The composition of the Board will be as described in the Statutes, Article 7.

According to the AAII Internal Regulation 4, Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu) will appoint a non-voting member of the Board. The appointed persons are Danny Vancoppernolle for ADI and Peter Gorbing for ADEu.

Former Board Members

Sven-G Hultman 2009-2014

Hälsans Natur  and Vårdhundskolan,  Sweden

Cecilia Marre 2014-2015

Bocalan Confiar Chile.

Lucia Katalenic 2011-2016

Croatian Guide Dog and Mobility Association, Croatia

Teo Mariscal 2009-2018

Fundación Bocalan 

Elma Burg 2009-2018

University of Wageningen, Netherlands.

Maria Daniela Balduzzi  – 2021

Big Team Argentina

In memoriam

Graham Ford, Tieren helfen Menschen e.V., Germany 1938-2015.
Graham was a founder board member of AAII. He sadly died in 2015.

We are all grateful for Graham’s outstanding contribution to AAII and lifetime of dedication to animal assisted activity.