Emotional Support Alligator: While most people find solace in therapy pets like dogs, cats, or rabbits, one baseball fan’s choice of emotional support animal is quite extraordinary—an alligator named Wally.
Meet Joie Henney, who claims that his unique pet helps him navigate his struggles with depression and cancer. However, their plans to attend a Phillies vs. Pirates game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia recently hit a snag when they were denied entry.
The Phillies’ website explicitly states that only guide dogs, service animals, or service animals in training are permitted, and all other animals are prohibited.
Wally, the emotional support alligator, has garnered significant attention on social media, amassing tens of thousands of followers. Photos of him receiving kisses and hugs from his adoring fans have captured hearts online.
Joie explained to Sky News that their intention wasn’t solely to watch the game; they were looking forward to meeting the players. Unfortunately, upon their arrival, the team was engrossed in warm-up activities.
“It was no big deal,” Joie remarked, as they simply turned around and headed home. He added, “We were going to go in down below [the stadium], but they were practicing for the game and couldn’t have visitors. They’re going to get a hold of us before they go to their next game. Soon, players will get to meet him.”
Joie’s relationship with Wally began in Florida back in 2015, and he has been working with alligators for over three decades. In 2019, he successfully obtained an emotional support animal license for Wally, who has been a tremendous source of comfort, especially during Joie’s radiation treatments.
Describing Wally’s unique disposition, Joie shared with CNN, “He doesn’t show anger. He doesn’t show aggression. He hasn’t since the day he was caught. We never could understand why. He’s just lovable. He sleeps with me, steals my pillows, steals my blankets. He’s just awesome.”
Joie remains unconcerned about the possibility of Wally biting someone and asserts that alligators are easier to train than dogs. With few exceptions, Wally accompanies Joie almost everywhere he goes, except for some restaurants that fear potential salmonella contamination.
Joie hopes that Wally’s story will inspire kindness toward others and bring smiles to people’s faces, recognizing that the world can be challenging enough as it is.
The tale of this extraordinary bond between a man and his alligator serves as a reminder that companionship and support can come in the most unexpected forms.