Human-animal bond to be emphasized at 2013 AVMA convention

Published on
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

A new partnership between the AVMA and the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations should strengthen continuing education opportunities during next year's AVMA Annual Convention and attract new attendees. The AVMA Executive Board approved the deal at its Jan. 6 meeting in Chicago.

The IAHAIO, which hosts an international symposium every three years, reached out to the AVMA in June 2010 about potentially holding the IAHAIO meeting as part of the AVMA convention's human-animal bond track.

"The human-animal bond was first coined in veterinary medicine, and much of what we do has to do with human-animal interaction. It seemed the logical thing—as we were looking for collaborators—to approach the AVMA, because that's where the bond began," said Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, president of the IAHAIO and director of the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction.

The IAHAIO's triennial conference draws nearly a thousand attendees. Dr. Johnson said investigators present research on all facets of interactions, from humans walking dogs for physical activity to research on animal behavior and how it can influence animals' interactions with humans. The CE programs typically feature the latest, best practices on human-animal interaction from IAHAIO members. They implement their own programs and report back their findings. One member is the Delta Society, which runs its own animal-assisted activities.

According to the agreement, the IAHAIO will help draft the human-animal bond–track sessions at the AVMA convention to be held July 20-23, 2013, in Chicago. In turn, the usual eight hours of human-animal bond CE will be expanded to 16 hours. The American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians will oversee content developed by the IAHAIO, and the AVMA Convention Management and Program Committee will determine which presentations will be a part of the companion animal programming.

The goal of the collaboration is to improve opportunities for networking, exposure, and education for all attendees, be they veterinarians or allied health providers.

"I think it's a nice blending and will be mutually beneficial for both organizations," Dr. Johnson said. "It's a great opportunity for people who wouldn't ordinarily talk together to do that." 

Juvenile hospital patient with service dog
The Delta Society, which seeks to improve human health through therapy and service animals, is a member of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations. (Courtesy of Delta Society)