People Always Ask…

TALES BLOG /People Always Ask

Do you have questions about volunteering with Hand in Paw? Don't worry! We are here to help.

Here are some common volunteering questions we've received over the past few months answered by our Volunteer Coordinator, Stacey Roudebush!    


I would like to volunteer with Hand in Paw as a Therapy Team! Where do I start?

Check out our incredibly informative website! Under the Volunteer menu tab, choose “Volunteer with Animal” to find our Volunteer Road Map to becoming a team with your pet. Our Road Map includes all the steps in our process to train as a volunteer therapy team with your dog or cat.  


Where should I take my dog for obedience training? Is there a specific class I need to take?

Potential HIP Therapy Teams are required to provide proof of attending a group obedience class- either a completion certificate or be able to provide a name and number of dog trainer/school. A group obedience class is any dog training class where teams work alongside other owners and their pups to learn basic commands such, as Sit, Stay, Come, Lay Down etc. Any dog trainer or school offering a group obedience class is accepted by HIP.  


I applied on the website a few months ago and haven’t heard from you in a while – what’s the deal?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all HIP in-person activities including screenings and training new volunteers are on hold. At this time, we cannot say when in-person activities for new volunteers will re-start, but we are hopeful that potential volunteers will be invited to screen later in 2021/ early 2022. HIP does accept applications for potential Therapy Teams on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply through our website.

In the meantime, you and your pup can work on positive reinforcement training. When safe to do so, introduce your pup to unfamiliar settings to get better acclimated to different types of people and environments.  If you have questions about the status of your application, please contact the HIP Volunteer Department at or (205)322-5144 ext 158.  

What’s the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog?

 A service dog is a companion animal specifically trained to assist their owner with physical or occupational needs. Service dogs are trained only to listen, respond, or be petted by their specific owners. A therapy dog is trained to assist and console many different types of clients in a variety of settings. Hand in Paw trains pet owners to work together with their dog or cat as animal assisted therapy teams to visit with our organization community program partners both in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas.  


I would like to get my dog certified as an emotional support animal. Can you help with that?

Hand in Paw does not provide any type of professional certifications- either for service, therapy, or emotional support animals. Once HIP Therapy Teams pass their final evaluation, teams are registered through our organization to be animal assisted therapy providers to our community program partners. HIP Team registration is only valid when our volunteer therapy teams are participating in scheduled programming and visits with determined program partners. Please consult your physician or social worker with questions regarding emotional support animal certification.  


Have more questions that we didn't cover?

Email Stacey at!