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.


The association acquired its own headquarters building in 1992. Today, 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.

Today, 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.

A lasting committment

Since its beginning, AAHA has been committed to excellence. The founders were convinced that small-animal practice was important and that it was necessary to provide better facilities and methods than were generally available. That philosophy is still alive as a guiding principle of the 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.

During the association’s history, the mission of AAHA has remained the same: to provide veterinary professionals with resources to effectively manage their businesses and deliver the best in companion-animal care. The AAHA Standards of Accreditation were developed to drive this mission, and AAHA has established itself as the leader in developing benchmarks of excellence, business practice standards, informative publications, and educational programs designed to help companion-animal practices thrive.