Meet Wally: The Incredible Emotional Support Alligator Who Helps His Owner Fight Depression!

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© Joie Henney / Facebook

Man’s Alligator Emotional Support Animal Creates Online Buzz: Meet Wally, the Unique Alligator Companion Who Accompanies Him Everywhere. Despite Criticism, He Shares Wally’s Special Qualities and the Positive Influence He Brings to His Life.

Wally is an alligator who was found as a baby in a pond at Disney World in Florida. While some people might think it would be best to release him back into the wild, the laws in Florida don’t permit it. Usually, alligators in this situation are either euthanized or kept in captivity.

Considering this, Joie Henney, who has extensive experience rescuing reptiles and is knowledgeable about alligators, decided to adopt Wally in 2015. Henney lives in Pennsylvania, where it is permissible to own alligators and other exotic animals as long as one has the appropriate permits and licenses.

Wally enjoys a cage-free life in Joie’s house.

© Joie Henney / Facebook

Unlike other alligators, whose natural instinct is to bite, especially when approached or touched, Wally is different. According to Henney, Wally doesn’t pose any danger and stands out as the first alligator he has encountered in 30 years without an aggressive nature. Wally has never attempted to bite anyone, regardless of the situation, and Henney even puts his hand in Wally’s mouth to rub his tongue without any harm.

No one can understand why Wally behaves so calmly, so Henney advises against getting alligators because most of them won’t have the same friendly temperament. According to Henney, Wally never shows anger or aggression, even from the day he was found. Henney said, “He’s just lovable. He sleeps with me, takes my pillows, and grabs my blankets. He’s simply amazing.”

Wally has been a comfort for Henney during his most difficult moments.

© Joie Henney / Facebook

In 2019, Henney obtained a license that allowed Wally to serve as an emotional support animal. Since then, the alligator has been a tremendous help to his owner during his cancer radiation treatments and has provided him with an opportunity to combat depression without relying on medication. Henney was actually prescribed anti-depressants, but he chose not to take them, stating that Wally’s presence alone was sufficient. He now acknowledges Wally for pulling him out of depression.

As an emotional support animal, Wally has the privilege of accompanying Henney almost anywhere they go. However, due to concerns about potential salmonella transmission, a few restaurants have prohibited the alligator’s entry. In September 2023, Henney and Wally gained attention when they were denied access to Citizens Bank Park, the home stadium of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.

The kind alligator visits schools and senior centers to educate and interact with people.

© Joie Henney / Facebook

Wildlife experts and animal welfare organizations have repeatedly called for new laws to ban the keeping of wild animals as exotic pets, including alligators. This is because owners often abandon them when they grow too large to handle.

The World Animal Protection non-profit organization raises additional concerns about keeping exotic pets. They highlight how many reptiles don’t have their basic needs met, resulting in a high number of them dying within a year of becoming pets. They also mention the risk of disease outbreaks, such as salmonella, which can lead to hospitalizations.

However, Henney wants to make it clear that he doesn’t encourage keeping alligators as pets. He brings Wally on educational visits to schools and senior centers to emphasize this point. Instead, his hope is that Wally’s story will inspire people to treat others with kindness and bring smiles to their faces, considering the challenges of the world.

Pets play an important role in their owners’ lives, whether they are considered emotional support animals or not. Ruger, a rescued dog, witnessed his best friend’s first and last day of school, creating a decade of cherished memories. Their heartwarming story has now been shared.