Emotional support animals are furry, sometimes fluffy, angels that assist people who have emotional disorders or mental health conditions. These animals have incredibly positive influences on people who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks or depression. Normally, these animals can travel with their owners wherever they'd like if they have their proper work vests on and are trained to be in public places.
It's pretty common to see an emotional support dog in your local grocery store or on college campuses, but there's one animal that is crawling around, supporting his owner emotionally and getting some major headline attention.
Wally, the emotional support alligator, has left the swamp and swam his way into the heart of people all over the country. Whether people are afraid to love him or love him because they're afraid, Wally is still making waves all across the world.
Emotional support animals have come a long way.
via: ShutterstockPeople have come to find that emotional support animals have provided a great service to those who own them.
Dogs make great service animals.miniature horses), there is a wider range of animals that are considered emotional support animals.
Emotional support animals provide just as much of a service!
Ever heard of an emotional support peacock?made the news because an airline wouldn't allow the bird on the plane. It would be an interesting story if you sat next to a peacock.
Dogs, cats, even peacocks can be used as an ESA.
via: ShutterstockMaybe you don't have a very strong connection with peacocks, but someone out there does and it makes all the difference in the world to them.
These animals have very important jobs.
via: ShutterstockService animals can sense panic attacks, heart attacks, seizures, and other emergency situations before they happen if they are trained properly. Support animals can be a calming presence for people with anxiety and can ultimately bring a better sense of stability and structure.
Do you need some scaly support?
An emotional support alligator? Yep, and Wally's even cool with people petting him https://t.co/MVWQHXSMdt https://t.co/3PZ1oNnSWL— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@South Florida Sun Sentinel)1547896089.0
Wally was rescued in 2015.Joie Henney adopted Wally in September of 2015 when he was just a 14-month old baby gator. Henney's friend found Wally in Florida and ever since then, it's been a beautiful, and strange, friendship.
Henney is an animal man.Henney is a 65-year-old man who lives in Strinestown, Pennsylvania. His love for animals started when he was only 10 after he rode a bull for the first time. He realized he loved wild animals. And adrenaline, which makes for an interesting combination.
He's also kind of a celebrity.
He's anything but basic.an interview. "I had venomous snakes. I rode bulls...I like calm things in life." Basically, he's more interesting than you and is not afraid of venomous snakes.
But even fearless men have emotions!
It started with baby steps.
It was love at first sight.York Daily Record, Henney said he felt comfortable to pick up the animal and hold it, almost immediately. Sometimes, when you know, you know. It's just true chemistry.
It took Wally sometime to warm up.Henney said it took just about a month before Wally started acting like a little puppy, following him around the house because "he wants to be loved and petted," said Henney.
Henney knew Wally was special.Henney, clearly very comfortable with reptiles, began bringing Wally to schools and senior homes for educational purposes but began to notice that Wally was doing more than just teaching them about reptiles.
Wally was a social butterfly.People really seemed to grow fond of Wally, and Henney noticed that children with developmental issues seemed particularly interested in Wally. They actually felt quite comfortable around the reptile.
The teeth aren't as bad as you think.
Wally, an emotional support alligator visits senior homes and is just like a dog, according to his owner...… https://t.co/JvxjB4ZLj2— AJC (@AJC)1547829342.0
Senior citizens are also a big fan of Wally.
Meet Wally: The emotional support alligator 🐊 | Details: https://t.co/YiwySKdnYF https://t.co/93pv7UrhGs— WFTV Channel 9 (@WFTV Channel 9)1547992803.0
With all this love and attention, Henney had an idea.
But he had some haters.
@people I want to believe that Wally will always be cute and cuddly to his owner, however, you can't trust a predator!— 🇺🇸 𝕃𝕒𝕦𝕣𝕒 𝔸 𝔹𝕣𝕒𝕘𝕒 💙🖤💙 (@🇺🇸 𝕃𝕒𝕦𝕣𝕒 𝔸 𝔹𝕣𝕒𝕘𝕒 💙🖤💙)1548275931.0
But Henney didn't give up!In December 2018, Henney applied to have Wally as a registered emotional support animal and Wally victoriously passed. He has the papers to prove it!
Now, Wally can go wherever he wants.
Now Wally is living the life.Wally gets to go wherever he wants and is pretty spoiled at home, too. Henney built him a 300-gallon pond in his living room for Wally to swim all day if he'd like. Henney also lets Wally roam anywhere around the house.
He has some hobbies.He loves roaming around the kitchen, knocking over trash cans, lying on the couch and making nests out of blankets on the bed. His favorite place in the house? An empty kitchen cupboard that he has made into his own private home.
He also has his favorite TV shows.
Wally's also got a brother.Henney later adopted Scrappy, a two-year-old gator, who lives with Henney and Wally. They both share their indoor pond and live a pretty lavish life.
Henney does send a warning.said.
Just to reiterate: Alligators are not pets.
Not everyone was a fan.
@SunSentinel https://t.co/4Gjopa8ROA— Laur (@Laur)1547919084.0
Others were huge fans!
STOP ATTACKING WALLY THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ALLIGATOR https://t.co/vY1CLQYBrA— Capt. Amazing (@Capt. Amazing)1548274361.0
It's okay to be confused.
@ajc At first, I was like "keep me out of THAT nursing home", and then I was like, "he's kind of cute. I might like to get to know him." 😃— artist mother (@artist mother)1547829735.0