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Our history

Our story

Our story began with a love for companion animals and a desire to make their lives better with quality health care.

Prior to World War I,  veterinary medicine focused on horses and livestock. After a post-WWI boom in mechanical progress, horses declined as a source of power in the United States. Later, farmers became unable to spend much money for treatment of their livestock following the economic depression of 1929. With few rural patients, many veterinarians moved to towns and cities, where they found growing populations of pet-owning households. Some families even prioritized their pets over themselves, one veterinarian said:

"It was surprising to see that at a time when many families had difficulties putting food on the table, they would manage to scrape up a few dollars to treat the family pet."

Ownership of companion animals such as dogs and cats continued to grow. In 1933, our seven leaders in the veterinary profession founded the American Animal Hospital Association in response to the growing need for quality veterinary care for small animals. In sessions lasting 36 hours, our founders drafted the AAHA constitution, believing that they could improve standards for small animal veterinary practice. Our  founders believed that companion animal veterinary practice was important and that better facilities and methods were necessary to keep pets healthy. That philosophy is still alive as a guiding principle of our Association today. It has helped stimulate and maintain the growth and development not only of the Association, but of the practice of small animal medicine throughout the world.

What we do

We are passionate about helping veterinary teams practice better medicine, and helping pets and their people stay happy and healthy. We are the only organization in the United States and Canada that accredits companion animal hospital based on standards that meet or exceed state and provincial regulations. Because federal and state entities do not require animal hospitals to be accredited, we step in to help veterinary teams practice better medicine by evaluating them on our approximately 900 Standards of Accreditation. AAHA-accredited hospitals are recognized among the finest in the industry, and are consistently at the forefront of advanced veterinary medicine. AAHA standards are continuously reviewed and updated to keep accredited practices on the cutting edge of veterinary excellence.

Don't just take our word for it

We know that our accredited hospitals have worked hard to pass our rigorous accreditation evaluation process - but why take our word for it? Take your pet to an accredited hospital today and see for yourself. Here's why pet owners say they choose to go to our accredited practices:

"I choose AAHA because of the compassionate, consistent, expert care provided by all staff."

"I choose AAHA because doggie years aren't long enough, and I want to make sure he gets as many of them as possible!" -Jennifer

"Our parents choose AAHA because they know what's best for us!" -Karen's dogs

"I choose AAHA because I value the drive, attention to detail, and the compassion shown daily by every team member."

"I choose AAHA because I expect my vet to give my dog the same level of care that I do." -James

"I choose AAHA because I don't want to take any chances with my pets' health and well-being." - Bess

"I choose AAHA because my dog's health care should be as amazing as his looks."       -Sarah

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