Hand in Paw

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Hand in Paw is a nonprofit organization, founded by Beth Franklin with "Pet Partners" Jessica and Maggie in 1996, which utilizes specially-selected pets as therapeutic tools in hospitals, schools and social service contexts. It is affiliated with Delta Society Pet Partners, a national organization with the same goals. Margaret Stinnett succeeded Franklin as executive director in November 2018, and the current board president is Idie Hastings. The group's offices moved to 617 38th Street South from 2616 7th Avenue South in 2014.

The group especially focusses on providing children with the benefits of animal interaction. They have specific programs in place for teaching "positive life skills" to at-risk youth and for emotional and physical rehabilitation in medial settings. They also offer a literacy program, and the group serves as a resource for education, social welfare and medical professionals who are interested in using animals in their own programs.

In 1996 Hand in Paw, which was still primarily Franklin and her two dogs, provided the first animal therapy services to UAB Hospital through then-UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center director Louis Josof. The program expanded to Children's Hospital the following year.

Currently the group consists of over 65 teams of animals and handlers and serves the Bell Center for Early Intervention, St Vincent's Hospital, The Exceptional Foundation, Trinity Medical Center, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Children's Hospital, Glenwood Mental Health Services, Family Violence Center, HealthSouth Hospital, Jefferson County Family Court, Salvation Army Youth, Service Guild Early Intervention, St Martin's in the Pines, The Park at Riverchase, UAB Center for Psychiatric Medicine, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, UAB Hospital, United Cerebral Palsy, and numerous local schools and libraries.

Programs include basic patient visits, "Petscription", "Pawsitive Living", "Paws for Comfort", and "Sit, Stay, Read!". The success of Hand in Paw has made it a model for new programs in Orlando, El Paso, and Japan.

To raise funds, Hand in Paw holds the annual Picasso Pets debut and auction in August. The 2006 auction was held on August 19 at the Zamora Shrine Temple.

In 2014 the organization moved to 38th Street South and was awarded a $60,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Birmingham to construct training facilities in the new space. The organization completed a $2 million expansion in January 2019.


  • "Defining Moments in Our 10 Years of Service!" (Spring 2006) Healing Connections newsletter.
  • "Hand in Paw Finds a New Home" (June 19, 2014) Community Foundation of Birmingham press release
  • Rebman, Stephanie (January 24, 2019) "Hand in Paw unveils new headquarters after $2 million renovation." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Hrynkiw, Ivana (January 24, 2019) "Hand In Paw gets a new home; a thankful mom tells why it matters." The Birmingham News

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