Wally the Alligator: Unlikely but Amazing Emotional Support Animal Assisting Children with Disabilities

When Wally isn’t visiting senior center and schools, he loves to rest in the kitchen cupboards at home

Most people don’t think of reptiles that can kill humans as particularly snuggly or calming, but a Pennsylvania man is changing that perception.

Joie Henney of Strinestown keeps a 4-foot-6-inch alligator named Wally as an emotional support and brings him to schools and senior centers to entertain and comfort kids and the elderly, Yahoo! News reports.

It didn’t take long for Henney to domesticate the creature, which a friend of his rescued from Florida in September 2016 when the gator was just 14 months old. Initially, Henney resorted to tongs to feed Wally, he told the York Daily Record, but he felt comfortable picking up the animal almost right away.

Within a month, the gator was gentle and happy to follow his new owner around the house “like a little puppy dog … He wants to be loved and petted,” Henney said.

Henney’s comfort with Wally came from his background as a bull rider — Henney has also kept venomous snakes as pets in the past, the local paper reports.

A few months after getting Wally, Henney began taking him to schools and senior homes for educational purposes, but he quickly noticed children with developmental issues especially enjoyed Wally’s presence.

“Wally’s never bitten me,” Henney told to the Record, “and he’s never tried to bite anyone. He’s pretty laid back.”

This observation prompted Henney to seek “emotional support animal” status for Wally, and in December 2018, he was successful. Even before Wally became an official ESA, though, Henney tells PEOPLE that he took the reptile with him “mostly everywhere … like parks and stores.” In fact, when the pair goes for a walk in the local park, they’ll be gone for almost five hours because everyone wants to meet Wally, he told the Record.

Wally’s favorite past times at the Henney household including watching TV — Gator Guys and Swamp Boys are his favorite shows — rumpling the sheets on a made bed to create a sort of nest, and hanging out in an empty kitchen cupboard he has established as his home.

Henney also built a 300-gallon pond for Wally in his living room.

But for all Henney’s belief in the alligator’s calming powers, the owner also stresses during his visits that it’s not usually safe to keep gators as pets because they are, at the end of the day, wild animals.

“They aren’t for everyone,” Henney quipped to the Record. “But what can I say? I’m not normal.”


Related Posts

Tender Moment: Baby Koala Clings to Unconscious Mother During Life-Saving Surgery, Emotions Run High

The love between such a caring mother is the most powerful force on the planet. Animal mothers, compared to humans, are bonded to and committed to their…

Tear-jerking moment a bear saw snow for the first time after spending 20 years of his life in a cage.

This is the tear-jerking moment a bear saw snow for the first time after spending 20 years of his life in a cage. But three weeks ago…

A touching bond: Man rescues stranded octopus, moved by its unexpected expression of gratitude, revealing a remarkable connection.

Pei Yan Heng saw a tiny octopus stranded on the sand at Cyrene Reef in Singapore and decided to lend the little creature a hand. But he…

Fearless Team Tranquilizes Mountain Lion Trapped 50ft Up Tree, Safely Returns it to Wild in California

A mountain lion had to be rescued after it got stuck up a tree outside a house in California. The big cat was spotted outside the home…

Animal Team Frees Seven-Week-Old Cub Trapped in Plastic Bottle, Offering a Heartwarming Moment of Freedom and Hope

This is the heartwarming moment a baby fox was cut free by rescuers after its head became stuck in a plastic bottle. The young fox, who was…

Thirty Years of Sorrow: Nelson, the Blind Bear, Endures Cage Life, Broken Teeth, and Starvation in Armenian Park Tragedy

A UK charity is campaigning for the release of a blind bear it claims has been kept in a cage in Armenia for 30 years. Nelson the…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *