SCAS Code of Practice: Moving Towards a UK Consensus for Minimum Standards in Animal Assisted Interventions. #ISAZ2024 Workshop

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The SCAS Code of Practice in AAI was initially published in 2013 and revised in 2019. It serves as a guide for professionals, patients, and the public, outlining crucial steps to achieve best practices. As part of the SCAS Code of Practice Workshop, held at the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) annual conference, delegates will engage in an activity designed to assist SCAS in collecting valuable information and filtering ideas from experts, professionals, and the public. This input will inform the future update of the Code as it is a living document. Join the SCAS2024 Annual Conference (online) in October for an update on the SCAS Code of Practice. 

About the Workshop

Sunday 30 June 2024
10 am – 12.30 pm


  • Dr. Elizabeth J. Ormerod, Society for Companion Animal Studies, United Kingdom
  • Evangelos Diamantakos, Hartpury University, United Kingdom
  • Dr. Anne McBride, University of Southampton, United Kingdom 
  • Tim Stafford, Guide Dogs, United Kingdom
  • Selina Gibsone, Dogs for Good, United Kingdom
  • Prof. Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers 

See below for presenter bios! 


Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) programmes have operated for more than four decades in the UK. With growing awareness that many potential benefits can accrue from the presence of animals in health and social care facilities, as well as educational establishments we are experiencing an exponential growth of programmes involving visiting and/or resident animals. Additionally, companies and professionals are increasingly offering AAI services to clients at their own locations or in private practices. However, those implementing such programmes may not always fully understand the need for these to be meticulously planned utilising a transdisciplinary approach to ensure the safety of everyone involved and to safeguard animal welfare.

The SCAS Code of Practice in AAI was initially published in 2013 and revised in 2019. It serves as a guide for professionals, patients, and the public, outlining crucial steps to achieve best practices. The Code encourages interdisciplinary collaboration within the caring professions – including veterinary medicine and ethology – for planning, developing, and maintaining programmes, as well as fostering collaboration between practitioners and researchers to document outcomes. This collaborative approach enhances the effectiveness and sustainability of AAI programmes. 

Learning Outcomes & Associated Activities

The panel of speakers will:

  1. Discuss the SCAS Code of Practice with emphasis on the key elements.
  2. Emphasise the necessity for recognition, qualification, and registration in AAIs
  3. Educate delegates on the pivotal role of establishing standards for animal selection/suitability and welfare in AAIs.
  4. Delve into the significance of adhering to specific procedures in both human and animal training and assessment.
  5. Define the psychological and safeguarding needs of human participants (both professionals and beneficiaries) in AAIs.


As part of this workshop, delegates will engage in an activity designed to assist SCAS in collecting valuable information and filtering ideas from experts, professionals, and the public. This input will inform the future update of the Code as it is a living document.


Dr. Elizabeth Ormerod, Society for Companion Animal Studies

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Dr. Elizabeth Ormerod

Elizabeth is a retired veterinarian who has devoted her life to gaining a better understanding of the human-animal bond and how this can be applied to help people and animals. During 40 years in veterinary practice, she pioneered bond centred veterinary practice.  With multidisciplinary collaboration she also developed veterinary outreach programmes, delivering Animal Assisted Services programmes to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, sheltered housing and prisons. As a Churchill Fellow, and on subsequent study trips, Elizabeth has travelled widely to visit centres of excellence in human-animal interactions. 

She is a co- Founder and Vice President of Canine Partners; is a Trustee of Our Special Friends; was a Vice President of IAHAIO 2010-202, co-Chairing IAHAIO’s International Task Force on animal welfare in AAI; she serves on the International Steering Group on Pets in Housing Issues initiated by SCAS, and on various other committees and Task Forces.  

Elizabeth was awarded the Inaugural William F. McCulloch Award for excellence in human-animal interaction practice and education. And in 2021 was CEVA UK Veterinarian of the Year.

Evangelos Diamantakos, Hartpury University

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Vangelis Diamantakos

Evangelos (Vangelis) Diamantakos is a senior lecturer in canine science at Hartpury University and has a multidimensional background in canine behaviour, training, welfare and academia. He has senior managerial experience in operations, education and evaluation of canine staff in the armed forces, the public, the private and the charity sector.

Vangelis is a member of the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS, UK), Animal Assisted Interventions Alliance of the University of Queensland (UoQ, AUS) and Kynos Nous Dog Assisted Interventions multidisciplinary team (Athens, Greece). 

Vangelis is an ABTC registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist and full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC, UK). He is the author of three books and sees dogs on behavioural referral from veterinary surgeons in Greece and the UK.

For more information, please visit   


Dr. Anne McBride, University of Southampton

Dr. Anne McBride

Based at the University of Southampton, School of Psychology, she is a senior lecturer in the field of Applied Animal Behaviour and Human-Animal Interactions: her areas of interest and research include:  responsible ownership; human attitudes, perceptions and interactions with animals; factors in the development of problem behaviours; lifetime welfare in companion, laboratory and zoo animals

She teaches on various related topics in the field including the theory and practice of animal learning and training, and behaviour counselling skills and history taking, and small animal behaviour and welfare at various universities in the UK and Europe. She has published widely in both books and academic and professional journals on various aspects of animal behaviour, animal welfare, human animal interactions.

A past Trustee, she continues as a member of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council Programme Recognition Committee. She is currently Chair of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. 

She is a member of the  British Standards Institute (BSI) committee working group as part of the European consortium on European standards for Assistance Dogs and Assistance dog training (CEN TC 452). She is also a member of the IAHAIO group on standard for Research involving people and/or animals in the field of Animal Assisted Services (AAS), Human Animal Interaction (HAI) and/or the Human Animal Bond (HAB)

Tim Stafford, Guide Dogs UK

Tim Stafford

Tim Stafford, MA, BSc (Hons); Director of Canine Affairs, 

Tim has worked for Guide Dogs (UK) since 1985, qualifying as a guide dog mobility instructor in 1989, working in this role in the UK and New Zealand. Tim holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and a master’s degree in Anthrozoology. Tim progressed through a succession of operations management roles before joining the senior leadership team. Tim is currently Director of Canine Affairs where he leads on strengthening strategic engagement with national and international partners, chairs the Animal Welfare and Ethics Panel and provides subject matter expertise across all departments and in the media. Tim is Head of Delegation for the British Standards Institute for the national committee considering the development of European Standards for Assistance Dogs CEN TC 452 (where he is also co-convenor of the working group for Lifetime Welfare). Tim is a Director/Trustee of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) where he chairs the Standards Committee and is vice chair of Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK).

Selina Gibsone, Dogs for Good

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Selina Gibsone

Selina has worked with dogs and people for over 20 years. She currently works at Dogs for Good who aim to bring trained dogs and people together to help them overcome specific challenges in order to enrich and improve the lives of both. Selina is the Research & Development Manager at Dogs for Good, working on new initiatives and projects in the areas of assistance dogs and animal assisted intervention (AAI). She has played an active role in working groups to create standards of practice for Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII), an organisation she now chairs. Selina has a BSc (Hons) in Animal Biology from the University of St Andrews, an MSc in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling from the University of Southampton, and an MSc in Psychology from Oxford Brookes University. During these studies she completed research projects on wolf behaviour, stimulus control in dogs and anxiety transfer between people and dogs.

Prof. Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers

Prof. Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers

Prof. em. dr. Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers is a clinical and health psychologist by training. Her special field of interest is the human-animal bond and animal-assisted interventions in health care and education. Her research topics include: the development of the human-animal bond, the meaning and effects of human-animal interactions and animal-assisted interventions for different groups of vulnerable people (e.g. elderly people, elderly people with dementia, traumatised children, mentally handicapped people, children with behaviour problems, veterans with PTSD). She also researched the ‘dark side’ of the human-animal relationship: the link between domestic violence and animal abuse. 

Since 2016 she is serving as President of IAHAIO – International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations, and is Chair of the Institute of Anthrozoology in the Netherlands. She is and was involved in many international and national boards and published many articles and book chapters.

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SCAS is the UK’s leading human-companion animal bond organisation through funding research, providing education, raising awareness, encouraging best practice, and influencing the development of policies and practices that support the human-companion animal bond. For more details check out our website at

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