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What is Hand2Paw?

Hand2Paw is an organization in Philadelphia that brings homeless youth and homeless animals together.   Watch the video to learn a bit more about H2P and what we do.  Hand2Paw Founder Rachel Cohen is the recipent of a DoSomething.org grant and the 1st place Winner of the 2011 National Students in Service Awards.

Why was Hand2Paw created?

In Philadelphia, a quarter of foster care youth that “age out” of the system at age 18 are left homeless. These youth lack the skills and support to transition into adult life. Unfortunately a parallel tragedy is unfolding for animals. Annually, Philadelphia euthanizes about 15,000 companion animals in shelters due to a lack of space and volunteers to care for the influx of animals in need. Hand2Paw brings together these two groups with a mutually beneficial program. It provides job training and therapeutic experiences for the youth, while simultaneously ensuring that shelter animals get the care and attention they deserve.

What homeless shelters and animal shelters do you work with?

We partner with Covenant House PA, a 55 bed crisis center for homeless youth in North Philadelphia. We also run programs in partnership with the Covenant House Rights of Passage Program. In the past, we have also partnered with Project H.O.M.E.

Hand2Paw participants volunteer at most of the major shelters in Philadelphia including Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS),  Pennsylvania SPCA and ACCT Philly.

What do the youth do at the animal shelters?

Everything you can think of! Hand2Paw volunteers:

  • Walk, play with, groom, and bathe dogs and puppies
  • Work on basic obedience with dogs and puppies through positive reinforcement and clicker training
  • Socialize and play with cats and kittens
  • Sanitize cages and toys
  • Give food and water to cats, kittens, and dogs
  • Sweep and mop floors, assist with laundry and dishes


Do the youth have a safe place to stay?

Yes of course! Hand2Paw doesn’t provide social services like housing or food. We work with agencies like Covenant House Pennsylvania that provide comprehensive social services. Hand2Paw is just a part of helping these youth transition into adult life.

Got other questions? Shoot us a message!