When you picture an emotional support animal, an alligator is probably the last creature you would ever imagine filling that role.
But this alligator is real, he is very affectionate, and he loves helping a Pennsylvania man to keep his depression in check.
65-year-old Joie Henney refused to take medication for his depression, so his doctor approved the use of an alligator as an emotional support animal to help him.
His alligator, named Wally, loves to snuggle and be petted, despite being the type of pet most people would run away from.
Wally is five-foot-long and a “big softy” according to Henney, who told reporters that he has never bitten anyone and is even afraid of cats.
Henney is well aware that is pet could easily rip his arm off if it wanted to, but he isn’t afraid of him in the slightest. Henney said:
“He’s just like a dog. He wants to be loved and petted. He helps me keep my spirits up. When I’m down it’s almost like he can sense it … He will come over to me on his own. He also has climbed into my bed with me when I’m not feeling well.”
Wally is still young, turning 4 this year, and is expected to grow as big as 16-feet-long, but if it wasn’t for Henney taking him in, he most likely wouldn’t be around any more.
It was a friend of Henney’s who had found him, and the animal was due to be put down if he wasn’t taken in by someone.
So not only was Henney in a position to help the alligator, but the favor could be returned, as his depression seemed to alleviate whenever the alligator was around him.
Henney told The Inquirer:
“When I came home and was around him, it was all OK. My doctor knew about Wally and figured it works, so why not?”
Wally soon became a registered support animal, and it wasn’t long before Henney took him everywhere he went, from walks in the park, to shopping trips together. The two have became inseparable. They even greet the residents of local nursing homes together, where Wally is always the center of attention.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done without him,” Henney said.