Now that we have emotional support alligators, has this whole EMA movement maybe gone a bit too far?
Meet Wally. He’s an American alligator (that’s the species, but also his nationality), about 5-feet long, and 4-years-old. His human is Joie Henney, 65, a retired former outdoorsman that was diagnosed with depression after losing 3 lifelong friends in a single year.
Joie didn’t want to be put on medication, but he found he was never sad around Wally. So, his doctor signed the paperwork to have Wally made into an emotional support animal.
“I had Wally, and when I came home and was around him, it was all OK,” he said. “My doctor knew about Wally and figured it works, so why not?”
Now, Joie isn’t the type to start foisting his alligator on people in public places. Yes, Wally is licensed and can be brought to a restaurant for a lovely night on the town (technically), but Joie acknowledges that Wally is still a wild animal that could rip his arm off if he so chose. He just hasn’t chosen to.
Wally’s story begins at just 14 months old when he was rescued as an itty-bitty gator just outside Orlando. Henney has raised him ever since. Which might explain why Henney and Wally legitimately seem very attached.
According to Joie, Wally loves to snuggle and give hugs. He’s never bitten anyone before and is in fact terrified of cats. “He’s just like a dog,” Henney told Philly.com. “He wants to be loved and petted.”
Not only that, Wally has a harness and leash and loves to be taken on walks. Although, he’s a little slower than most dogs. Alligators are ambush predators, after all.
As snuggly and dog-like as Wally might be now, he will eventually grow up to 15-feet long and anywhere between 900 and 1,100 lbs. No matter how friendly he is, that’s a lot of Gator to keep indoors on a diet of frozen chicken wings.
But for now, Wally is keeping Henney happy. Let’s just hope he never gets a taste for human flesh.