Quick Facts


  • Founded in 1996 by Beth Franklin
  • Mission: To improve human health and well-being through Animal-Assisted Therapy
  • Nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, serving Central Alabama
  • Eight paid staff members
  • Governed by a 22-member Board of Directors
  • Supported by a 30-member Advisory Council and a Junior Board
  • Correct spelling: Hand in Paw

Therapy Teams

  • HIP Therapy Teams are all volunteers. A Therapy Team consists of a trained handler and a trained animal, sometimes accompanied by a Therapy Visit Assistant.
  • Hand in Paw Therapy Teams are registered and insured through Pet Partners®.
  • Teams are trained in accordance with Pet Partners® standards as a basic requirement, supplemented with classes created by HIP. Teams follow strict risk management and infection control protocol at all times and must be re-evaluated every two years to retain their national registration.
  • HIP currently has 175 volunteers (Therapy Teams + Visit Assistants).
  • HIP Therapy Teams make more than 97,000 patient/client contacts annually.
  • HIP Therapy Teams serve in 90+ partnering facilities, including:

The UAB Health System; Children’s of Alabama, Hill Crest Behavioral Health Services, Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center, the YWCA, The Exceptional Foundation, Brookwood Medical Center, DCH Regional Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House, The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs, nursing homes, schools and other agencies.


Funding is provided solely by donations, grants and special events.