Researchers have identified three historical stages to human-animal relationships: 1) when man believed he and animals were the same, 2) when man believed he was superior to animals, and 3) when man had little direct experience with animals, including those he consumed.

In the 1970s, a shift occurred. Today, human-animal interactions (HAI) is not only a field of study, it is also the subject of an upcoming international symposium.

The International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) will hold its annual symposium on animal-assisted interventions in Copenhagen May 28-30.

The symposium, “Advancing HAI beyond boundaries: Developing our road map for the future,” will focus on establishing international standards and best practices for animal welfare in animal-assisted interventions (AAI).

Because the field of HAI requires multidisciplinary work, delegates from the veterinary community, as well as the social and medical care fields, are invited to attend.

Attendees will work in small multidisciplinary groups to identify problem-solving strategies and develop projects that culminate in presentations at IAHAIO’s triennial conferences.

This year’s workshops and plenary sessions will focus on program sustainability, including remuneration for interventions in health care and education settings, and ensuring the welfare of the animals involved.

IAHAIO’s vision is to promote pet ownership, the human-animal bond, and respectful approaches to engaging with animals. To that end, they focus on the practice, research and/or education in animal-assisted activity, animal-assisted therapy, and service-animal training.

IAHAIO members work across disciplines and across the world. Today, IAHAIO has more than 75 multidisciplinary member organizations and professional associations globally, including the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). And they are setting a global agenda for the advancement of the HAI field.

“Human-animal interactions and relationships are very important to us as veterinary professionals and as humans,” said Janice Trumpeter, DVM and deputy chief executive officer of AAHA. “IAHAIO recognizes this value and seeks to improve our understanding of how we interact.

“As a member organization, we support research, education, and collaborative initiatives that help us understand our behaviors and how these relationships benefit both humans and animals. That’s why we at AAHA support these types of initiatives—they are instrumental in our practice of veterinary medicine.”


This article was originally published in AAHA's NEWStat blog. 


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