Sit, Stay, Read


Sit, Stay, Read!* helps reluctant young readers who are performing below grade level to overcome embarrassment and improve skills by reading aloud to calming, motivating therapy animals. Hand in Paw’s specially-trained Therapy Teams make reading a non-threatening and positive learning experience. Because pets accept people without conditions, the human-animal bond creates a relationship free of the stress of judgments and expectations. This program was first conducted in association with libraries and now helps improve literacy skills in other settings as well.

Sit, Stay, Read! has demonstrated significant improvements in children’s attitudes towards reading. This results in improved reading skills, increased interest in reading, and more participation in the classroom. The children gain self-confidence and positive life skills that serve them throughout their lives.

Hand in Paw's Sit, Stay, Read! program is currently improving reading at:

Brock's Gap Intermediate School
Hall-Kent Elementary
Oak Mountain Elementary
Rocky Ridge Elementary
South Shades Crest Elementary
Vestavia Hills Elementary Central
YWCA - After School Enrichment Program for Homeless Children

Sit, Stay, Read! is made possible in part by support from Combined Federal Campaign, Daniel Foundation of Alabama, Birmingham Kiwanis Foundation, The Literacy Council of Central Alabama, Target, and Wells Fargo.

*Disclaimer: No association exists between Hand in Paw, an Alabama not-for-profit corporation, and Sit Stay Read Inc., an Illinois corporation, or the services of either entity.




Hand in Paw’s Petscription program has proven beneficial in reducing the need for sedation during invasive or stressful procedures, providing professional staff a more relaxed patient and family with which to work, and reducing the length of time required to reach therapy goals. Our services are in high demand among people receiving care for acute medical conditions, cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, people living with mental disorders, students receiving special education, and patients requiring speech, occupational and physical therapy.

Petscription volunteers work with facility staff to provide medical, psychiatric and rehabilitation services via interactions between patients/clients of all ages and therapy animals.

Petscription services are provided to the following medical, early intervention and rehabilitation facilities:

The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs
Birmingham Speech and Hearing Associates
Birmingham VA Medical Center - Safe Harbor Unit
Brookwood Medical Center
Children's Hospital DCH Cancer Center
The Exceptional Foundation
The Ronald McDonald House
St. Vincent's Camp One Nineteen
Trinity Medical Center
YWCA Family Violence Center
The RISE School at The Stallings Center

Hand in Paw partners with the following schools to deliver the Petscription program:

Hall-Kent Elementary
Linda Nolen Learning Center
Rocky Ridge Elementary
UAB Engel Therapeutic Preschool and Day Treatment Center

Hand in Paw partners with the following Retirement Facilities and Nursing Homes:

Episcopal Place
Fair Haven
Golden Living Center
Kirkwood by the River
Shelby Ridge Rehab Select & Nursing Home
St. Martin's in the Pines

Petscription is made possible in part by support from the Alabama State Employees Combined Charitable Campaign, the Combined Federal Campaign, the Crippled Children’s Foundation, the Daniel Foundation of Alabama, Harry B. & Jane H. Brock Foundation, Nelson & Charleen Kemp Foundation, Rite Aid Foundation, the UAB Benevolent Fund, and Walmart Foundation.


Pawsitive Living


Pawsitive Living™ is an innovative 12-week program that teaches compassion and anger management to at-risk children and youth. Written by licensed professionals, Hand in Paw's proprietary, evidence-based Pawsitive Living curriculum works to prevent family and community violence and prepare youth to be better citizens and parents in the future. A one-to-one ratio of Hand in Paw's professionally-trained volunteers and youth from partnering agencies is a critical aspect of the program, because it fosters the formation of mentor/mentee relationships. Activities that teach healthy ways of coping incorporate the animals. The pets serve as a bridge of communication between the volunteers and the participants, many of whom have developed a hard facade due to past experiences.

Contact with animals has been proven to teach the importance of care giving and responsibility, and for victims of abuse, the benefit of animals is tremendous. According to Dr. Samuel B. Ross, Executive Director of Green Chimneys Children’s Services in Brewster, New York, animals can empower children to break the cycle of abuse. "For many children whose nurturing has been faulty, taking care of an animal can interrupt the cycle of abuse repeating itself over generations. They can learn to be caregivers, even if they haven’t been well cared for themselves." Further, victims of domestic violence are more likely to open up and talk about their feelings when animals are present.

At the end of the program, participants demonstrate their change in perspective and ability to contribute positively to the community by visiting, with our Therapy Teams, a facility that serves people with special needs. Pawsitive Living volunteer teams also assist with mothers and children affected by substance abuse, crime, and homelessness.

At the present time, Pawsitive Living is changing lives in the following settings:

Alabama Youth Homes
Grace House
Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center
Hill Crest Behavioral Health Services


Pawsitive Living is made possible in part by support from Alabama Civil Justice Foundation, Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, Combined Federal Campaign, Daniel Foundation of Alabama, and the Hill Crest Foundation.