Meet Wally, the Emotional Support Alligator

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A man in Pennsylvania says his emotional support alligator helps him with the overwhelming grief he feels as a result of losing 3 family members.

Let me first say that if you’re feeling depressed or anxious today, please talk to someone. If you don’t have anyone in your life who is available, The Samaritans are always there for you. Call or text (877) 870-4673 (HOPE) and someone will always answer.

Meet Wally, the Emotional Support Alligator

The last time I saw an alligator close up was… never. Maybe in a zoo? I guess I don’t find alligators particularly appealing or comforting, but that’s just me.

A nice man in Pennsylvania feels differently. Mr. Joie Henney has had his emotional support alligator since 2015 when he rescued little Wally at 14-months-old.

When he found his toothy friend, Mr. Henney was in heartbreaking emotional pain. He had recently lost 3 loved ones in a single week. Two of the three deaths happened within 24 hours of each other. He needed something to look after and to love. Then, he met Wally.

The 60 pound, 5-foot animal, Mr. Henney says, gives him gator snuggies. “I was laying down one day, and he literally crawled up on the cot with me and laid his head on top of my face.”

Forgive me, but if a 5′ alligator climbed into bed with me and laid his face on mine, I would naturally assume I was about to die. The news headline would read, “Woman found eaten by a pet alligator while trying to snuggle it. Alligator denies everything.”

Mr. Henney doesn’t worry like that about Wally. He takes Wally for lots of walks using a harness and leash. In fact, this reptile really gets around.

According to Henney’s Facebook posts, Wally goes to Home Depot, Cabelas, and lots of parks. He has been to a Boy Scout meeting where he was made an honorary Boy Scout, he’s posed for college art classes, and visited nursing homes.

Think that’s a lot for one alligator to do? Wally also goes to church!

Emotional Support Animal vs. Service Animal

An emotional support animal is not protected by the ADA – American’s With Disabilities Act. In other words, Wally probably won’t be taking any plane rides soon.

Emotional support animals are considered “companion animals that a medical professional says provides some benefit for a person disabled by a mental health condition or emotional disorder.”

They have no job to do other than bring someone who is suffering from anxiety, or depression, panic attacks, a bit of comfort.

Any animal that provides support, well-being, comfort, or aid, to an individual through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, and affection may be regarded as an emotional support animal. (So says Wikipedia.)

A service animal, on the other hand, is trained to do a job. Guide dogs are one example. Service dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere while emotional support animals may not be. Depends on where you’re going, I suppose.

Do you know much about emotional support animals?

Do you have one or know someone who does? Are there things you can share about those experiences? We love it when readers are kind enough to share their lives with us.

In closing, we wish Mr. Henney every bit of happiness and tranquility his Wally can bring to him. It’s always good when someone can find help and healing through the love of an animal – no matter how big their teeth are.

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