Mission & Story

Our Mission

To improve human health and well-being through Animal-Assisted Therapy.

Hand in Paw’s professionally-trained volunteer handler and animal Therapy Teams help improve people’s day to day lives in several medical centers, schools, and human service organizations throughout North Central Alabama and Tuscaloosa. Our volunteer teams make thousands of beneficial visits through community events and participating facilities each year, helping countless children with special needs, at-risk youth, struggling students, and people with chronic and terminal illnesses.

At no time has Hand in Paw charged for its services.



Our Story


In 1996, Animal-Assisted Therapy existed on a very limited number of radar screens, and it certainly wasn’t being used in Birmingham, Alabama. Soon after founder, Beth Franklin, created Hand in Paw, Animal-Assisted Therapy Teams became a familiar sight in area hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities.

From Hand in Paw’s earliest days as a 501(c)(3) organization, Franklin and the Board of Directors shared a vision of excellence. Great attention was paid to training and evaluation of all volunteers and their animal partners. This attention to quality continues to be a mainstay of Hand in Paw.

One woman struck out on a mission to design and build an organization that would, through the use of volunteer Animal-Assisted Therapy Teams, improve the health and well-being of people of all ages. Today, more than 100 professionally-trained volunteers carry out that mission. Hand in Paw has been lauded as an exemplary organization in terms of financial transparency, accountability, stewardship, and perhaps most importantly, an unselfish service to the community.





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