AAHA’s History


The American Animal Hospital Association was founded by seven leaders of the veterinary profession in 1933. From its inception, AAHA has focused on promoting high-quality standards for the rapidly evolving sector of small-animal private practice through accreditation and other initiatives. These standards were developed to raise the bar of veterinary excellence and have undergone numerous updates throughout the years, always reflecting current industry standards. 


The 1960s saw the establishment of organization staff and normalization of many of the policies and processes AAHA adheres to today. The first paid practice consultants were hired, and AAHA grew into a more professionally managed organization.

Rapid growth in membership and member services occurred in the 1960s and early 1970s with the development of additional educational programs and publications for veterinary professionals. Significant change occurred in the early- to mid-1980s when AAHA added services in the area of veterinary practice management and relocated from Indiana to Denver, Colorado.


AAHA is still the only organization to accredit companion animal veterinary hospitals. To become AAHA accredited, practices undergo regular, comprehensive onsite evaluations by AAHA veterinary experts who evaluate each practice on more than 900 standards of veterinary care.

More than 4,500 practice teams (about 15% of veterinary practices in the United States and Canada) are AAHA accredited or preaccredited.

AAHA is also a founding member of Partners for Healthy Pets and is a member of the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Steering Committee.

The association employs a professional staff of more than 60 people and produces a wide array of publications, including Trends magazine and the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, resources, client information, and more.

AAHA is respected internationally for its dedication to professional development, hospital accreditation standards, and quality educational programs. This recognition and the strength of the organization is a tribute to the vision of its founders and to the leadership and dedication of the many veterinary professionals who have devoted time and energy to serve AAHA through the years as directors, officers, member representatives, and committee members.

AAHA Timeline