According to AVMA policy, “The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment. The veterinarian's role in the human-animal bond is to maximize the potentials of this relationship between people and animals.”
Accordingly, the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions will:
- Identify initiatives and create a tactical plan that will
- Foster a better understanding of the characteristics of different types of human-animal relationships encountered by veterinarians practicing within the profession, and
- Promote the veterinarian’s role in supporting good human-animal relationships and communicating expectations for those relationships outside of the profession.
In carrying out this function, the Steering Committee may convene working groups of experts to assist in development and implementation of specific tactics under the plan.
- Recommend, facilitate and monitor AVMA’s engagement (e.g., membership in associations, liaisons, and events) with stakeholders having a human-animal bond focus (e.g., Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative [HABRI], International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations [IAHAIO], Pet Partners [formerly Delta Society], American Hippotherapy Association)
- Oversee other human-animal bond-related activities (e.g., administration of the Bustad Award)
Membership—The Steering Committee will be elected by the Board of Directors and shall comprise four members with broad perspectives and expertise within the human-animal bond field. To maximize coverage and balance, these individuals will represent the three aspects of the human-animal bond (impact on the animal, impact on the human, and the attachment between humans and animals) with attention to both domestic and non-domestic species:
- 2 experts on the impact on the animal (i.e., how human-animal attachment type/strength impacts the animal’s well-being).
- Veterinarian or scientist with expertise in domestic animal relationships (animals used for companionship, research, food, work, recreation)
- Veterinarian or scientist with expertise in non-domestic human-animal relationships (wildlife, zoos, aquaria)
- 1 expert on the impact on the human (i.e., how human-animal attachment type/strength impacts the well-being of people).
- 1 expert on human-animal attachment (i.e., an expert on key theories of attachment, bonding and/or interconnectivity among species)
The four members of the Steering Committee will be expected to be able to environmentally scan across veterinary medicine and related disciplines and have sufficient experience and standing within the human-animal bond field to convene and direct topic-specific working groups as required.
The Steering Committee will initially be populated using staggered terms as follows:
- The “veterinarian or scientist with expertise in domestic human-animal relationships” will serve for 2 years.
- The “veterinarian or scientist with expertise in non-domestic human-animal relationships” will serve for 2 years.
- The “expert on the impact on the human” will serve for 3 years.
- The “expert on human-animal attachments” will serve for 3 years.
- All individuals initially appointed will be eligible for one additional 3-year term on the Steering Committee, subject to the Committee’s continuation (see Life Expectancy).
Following the initial staggered terms, Steering Committee members will be appointed for three years with once-renewable terms.
Credentialing of Members—Experience requirements for each of the Steering Committee members are as follows:
Animal impact experts (i.e., veterinarians or scientists with expertise in domestic and non-domestic human-animal relationships)—Should have a minimum of 3 years documented experience focusing on the study of human-animal relationships in one or more species as evidenced by research, teaching, or practical application of bond-centered programs and activities.
Human impact expert—Should have a minimum of 3 years documented experience focusing on the study of human-animal relationships’ impacts on people. Examples of eligible individuals include medical personnel with direct experience in the use of animals as therapeutic interventions (e.g., nurses, physical/occupational therapists), researchers focused on this topic, and representatives of organizations having this focus (e.g., therapy animal groups, wildlife organizations with a focus on sustainable communities).
Human-animal attachment expert—Should have a minimum of 3 years documented experience focusing on the study of human-animal relationships’ impacts on animals. Examples of eligible individuals include attachment psychologists, ethologists, and individuals involved in One Health or public health with an obvious and strong focus in this area.
Applicants for Steering Committee membership must submit a brief statement of interest and a complete resume’/curriculum vitae. The Credentialing Committee will ensure that the Steering Committee encompasses an appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge to accomplish its charge. In addition, input on composition from a senior AVMA staff member with field-specific expertise designated by the Office of the Executive Vice President will be considered.
Chair—The Steering Committee will select a Chair annually from among its members.
The Steering Committee is authorized to hold up to two 1-day in-person meetings at AVMA headquarters, and to conduct conference calls as needed.
Travel expenses are authorized in accord with the AVMA Travel Policy. Financial and other resource support for specific projects may be secured by recommendation to the Board of Directors.
The Steering Committee will advise and inform the Board of Directors.
The Steering Committee will be evaluated as per policy after an initial period of two years from inception. Subject to approval of its continuation, the effectiveness of the Steering Committee will be evaluated in accord with the established schedule for other AVMA entities.