CRANFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – We’ve heard about therapy animals such as dogs even cats, but how about a pig?
Meet Norman, the pot belly pig who visits his fifth grade class at Brookside Place School as an anxiety support animal.
The students love him, reports CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.
“Studies show that when you pet an animal it relieves stress,” said 11-year-old student Vanessa Kelly.
The whole thing started when the kids were discussing anxiety with their teacher, Rosie Scholz. They started researching animals that can help.They nixed the dog idea because some kids are scared of them. So they came up with a pig.
“Some students in here have really bad anxiety and I feel the stress level has gone down a lot thanks to Norman,” said Lily Costello, another 11-year-old in the class.
The kids came up with a presentation to convince the principal, school superintendent and school board why Norman was a good idea.
It worked, and the board approved what the kids call Norman’s Law.
Teacher Rosie Scholz went out and bought him for her class. He was just 2 pounds when he first came to school.
He only comes once a week when the students are taking tests.
“The anxiety levels in children have increased, the demands on kids have increased,” said Scholz. “We have a lot of testing we go through.”
Scholz says math test scores have gone up since Norman started coming.
“He kind of makes me feel a lot more confident that I’m going to do well on the test,” said 10-year-old Lucia Grillo.
He lives with Scholz, gets along great with her bull dogs, and has helped her son Noah deal with his anxiety.
“Norman is a very clean pig, he’s a very clean pig,” said 11-year-old Quinn Smith.
Norman is also potty trained so he’s walked outside just like a dog.
Pot belly pigs normally live around 12 to 15 years, so Norman has more than a decade to help students get through school.