Emotional support alligator loves to give hugs

August 13th, 2020

It’s no secret that animals work wonders for the mental health of their caregivers.

That’s why many psychologists prescribe emotional support animals (ESAs) as part of their treatment plan. These animals must be prescribed by a mental health professional and are usually of the fluffy variety.

Most people requiring an ESA choose a companion like a dog or a cat or even a bird. But one man from Pennsylvania made a rather interesting decision when selecting his ESA.

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Guideposts Source: Guideposts

Meet Wally.

Wally was just a baby lizard when he was rescued from Orlando, Florida. Orlando is known for attractions such as Disney and Islands of Adventure. These Theme Parks attract many children and many people were worried that large animals like Wally would become too dangerous to coexist with all the humans.

If I wouldn’t have taken him he would have been killed.” ~Joie Henney.

Wally was a small one-year-old when he was rescued and given a home further up the east coast in Pennsylvania. Hennet rescued Wally…just two years later Wally would return the favor.

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Philadelphia Inquirer Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Becoming an emotional support animal

A few years later Joie Henney was struggling with depression. His doctor wanted to start him on some pills, but Henney didn’t like the way they made him feel. Eventually, he realized that he felt a lot better whenever he would spend time with Wally.

When I came home and was around him, it was all OK,” Henry shared in an interview with The Inquirer. “My doctor knew about Wally and figured it works, so why not?”

The rest is history. Wally got his ESA certification, and Henney got his ESA Letter and the nearly 4-year-old alligator prepared for a wonderful long life of cuddles and emotional support.

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The Dodo Source: The Dodo

Wally is about 5 feet long now, and he loves to cuddle Henney. He’s really good about sensing emotions too. Henney has shared that Wally has even climbed into his bed for cuddles when he wasn’t feeling well.

“He helps me keep my spirits up,” Henney said. “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,” Henney said.

Cuddling an alligator.

Henney understands that many businesses and other establishments may not always be open to having an alligator on the premises. He makes sure to call ahead and gain approval before bringing Wally anywhere with him.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

The places he does visit greet him with much enthusiasm. Wally loves to pose for pictures with kids in restaurants and stores. He’s even given a few employees a cuddle sometimes.

He feels like a weighted blanket!” One employee at the mall says.

“This just made my day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an alligator outside of the zoo before.” Says another.

Wally is still pretty small (by alligator standards) but he may grow to be 14 feet long. Henney will just have to adjust his cuddling positions as his good boi grows.

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The Dodo Source: The Dodo

Henney is devoted to making sure Wally has a good home. He already has a pond on the property which he shares with a younger rescue named Scrappy. They both share their home with Luna who is the youngest gator on Henney’s land.

Even with a brother and a sister, Wally gives the best hugs. Scrappy is too young and Luna likes to scuttle around and play. Wally enjoys being still and giving hugs.

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Source: The Dodo/Beast Buddies