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About us

The International Community of Anthrozoology

ICofA was founded in 2004 by Dyrebar Omsorg in Norway. ICofA is a network of professionals and organizations from around the world who work together with the goal of improving the quality and further developing AAI - animal-assisted interventions internationally.

ICofA camp group photo

Our vision


High quality and expertise:

By collaborating with the right people and organisations we aim to improve the quality of AAI and create an international standard of minimum requirement of education and screening tests of animals. We have expertise in fields such as psychology, anthrozoology, ethology, pedagogy, and public health.


Certified teams an asset to AAI:

High-quality courses give our students a strong foundation and confidence when they are certified and ready to find employment or start their businesses. It is important for us that our certified teams are an asset to the field of animal assisted interventions and that they will be an important part of building the reputation and quality of AAI.


Animal welfare:

All animals certified through us must undergo a personality test (PADA) conducted by an ethologist to determine if the animal is suitable and will thrive in human-related work. This is important to ensure animal welfare, minimize risks, and enhance the quality of interventions. Animals should be enriched by their experiences just as we are.


Meet the team

Christine Olsen

Christine Olsen 

President and Manager

Dr. Christine Olsen has a master degree in ethology, higher education in special needs education and rehabilitation, and a PhD in public health focusing on animal-assisted interventions. Her research is frequently cited and is rated in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Almetric. Dr. Olsen is also a dog behaviorist and dog trainer, and screens dogs personality around the Europe. She travels with her lectures about AAI, dog mental test and animal welfare as a speaker on international conferences.

Line Sandstedt

Line Sandstedt

Vice president of ICofA

She is a lector in science and a postgraduate in special needs education and coaching. Sandstedt is also a dog behaviourist and dog trainer, and screen dogs personality for AAI. Sandstedt gives courses in dog training both nationally and internationally. She is responsible for all of the education given by Dyrebar Omsorg, both dog training and training of human-animal teams. Line has worked for the organization since 2006.


Tahira Tarquini

Public Relations and Marketing

Tahira is the owner of the company Flow Coaching & Training in which she offers educational material within AAI. She is educated in Animal Husbandry, Equine Business and Economics and Positive Psychology. She also specialised in (Systemic) Coaching, following Dog and Horse Assisted Coaching courses, besides following several courses within AAI and dog behavior, including the PADA Evaluator course (for which she will give exams soon). She is also active in the Erasmus+ sector as a project coordinator and project facilitator.

Melissa Winkle

Melissa Winkle

Senior coordinator

is an Occupational Therapist, Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association,  & Certified Professional Dog Trainer. She is founder and President of Dogwood Therapy Services and co-founder and vice chair for Animal Assisted Intervention International. She has 23 years’ experience as a practitioner, consultant, research team member, author, and speaker.

Melissa designs and delivers curriculum internationally for universities, professional conferences, and organizations. She is a consultant for animal assisted services program development and offers in person and virtual human-dog team coaching. She began collaborating with ICofA in April of 2019.

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