AAHA’s History

A Legacy of Excellence in Veterinary Care (Since 1933)

Historical photo of former AAHA members and leadership. Also showing old AAHA logos

AAHA’s story began in 1933, driven by a collective vision of seven passionate veterinary leaders. That vision lives on in AAHA’s mission is to elevate the standards of small animal care through accreditation and ongoing initiatives. From the very beginning, AAHA has been a trailblazer, setting the bar for excellence and evolving alongside the veterinary industry.

The Early Years (1933-1960s):

  • Laying the Foundation: The initial focus was on developing comprehensive standards for veterinary practice, ensuring exceptional care for companion animals.
  • Building the Infrastructure: The 1960s saw the establishment of a dedicated staff and the formalization of key policies, transforming AAHA into a well-structured organization.

Soaring Growth (1960s-1980s):

  • Expanding Services: Membership and member services flourished with the launch of educational programs and publications empowering veterinary professionals.
  • Shifting Landscape: The early 1980s marked a significant shift with the introduction of veterinary practice management services and a relocation to Denver, Colorado.

The Present Day:

  • The Standard of Accreditation: AAHA remains the sole accreditor for general, specialty and emergency companion animal hospitals, conducting rigorous onsite evaluations to ensure adherence to over 900 standards of veterinary care.
  • Widespread Impact: Over 4,500 practices (15% of veterinary hospitals in the US and Canada) are AAHA-accredited or preaccredited, demonstrating our reach and influence.
  • Industry Leader: We are a founding member of Partners for Healthy Pets and actively contribute to research initiatives, solidifying our international reputation.

Looking Forward:

AAHA’s journey is far from over. We remain committed to upholding our founders’ vision by:

  • Continuously refining accreditation standards to reflect the latest advancements in veterinary medicine.
  • Empowering veterinary professionals through educational programs, resources, and advocacy efforts.
  • Championing animal welfare by promoting responsible pet ownership and collaborating with key stakeholders.

Join us as we continue to write the next chapter in AAHA’s legacy, shaping a brighter future for veterinary care and animal wellbeing.