Public Health Student Explores Benefits of Using Pot-bellied Pigs in Animal Therapy

Anastasia “Anya” Smith, a public health senior at The University of Toledo, fell in love with the two pot-bellied pigs her brother brought to the family’s farm in Monroe, Mich. Then, her mind shifted to her research project on the benefits of animal therapy.

“With how cute and friendly they were, I thought they’d be great to take places,” she said.

Smith is researching animal therapy as part of her public health internship at MemoryLane Care Services, an adult day center in Toledo for individuals with cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Animal therapy programs commonly use dogs, but Smith wanted to test what effect Wilbur, a four-month-old pot-bellied pig, would have on the participants. Wilbur’s companion, Charlotte, was too timid to bring into the center.

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Photo Credit: The University of Toledo