Video Extra: Emotional Support Alligator

Posted at 8:34 AM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 10:34:28-05

A Central Pennsylvania man is getting global attention thanks to a special reptile in his life.

Wally is an alligator who helped Joie Henney with his depression.

Weighing in at 60 pounds, and spanning nearly five feet long, Wally brings Henney joy.

“He comforted me,” Henney said. “I got over my depression.”

Henney rescued Wally in Florida, when the gator was about a year old.

He realized Wally’s potential to help him after a tough time in his life, when friends and family had died in close proximity.

“I lost three in a week, two in less than 24 hours,” Henney said. “I was laying down one day, he literally crawled up on the cot with me and laid his head on top of my face.”

Now, Henney wants to share Wally, taking him to nursing homes and visiting with people in the community.

He’s been asked to appear on television nationally, and even overseas.

“He is registered as my emotional support animal, but he has done a lot for others,” Henney said.

Henney plans on using Wally’s influence to continue helping others.

He’s selling autographs of Wally’s footprint at Central Market in York, to raise money to help a young boy with autism travel to see his dying mother. The boy lives in West Virginia, while his mom is in a hospital in Ohio.

The young boy loves alligators.

“He gets anxiety attacks when he travels, so we wanna take Wally, to see if Wally can help him to go see his mother,” Henney said.

It’s legal to have an alligator as a pet in Pennsylvania.

Forgotten Friends, a local rescue, says alligators are better off in the wild.

At least once a week, people call the rescue wanting to surrender gators.

Henney says Wally has never bitten any person or animal. He advises people not to judge a book by its cover.