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Wally the emotional support alligator proves that help can come in many shapes and sizes

 emotional support alligator
(Image credit: Barcroft Media)

It isn’t usually a five-foot emotional support alligator that springs to mind when you think of supportive animals – but Joie Henney from Pennsylvania would disagree. As Joie explains, "He's far from a typical alligator, he loves cuddling and he loves giving kisses."

That’s not to say Wally doesn’t turn heads when he’s taken for walks by Joie to parks, malls and even restaurants, but 65-year-old Joie can think of no better companion after the 60-pound pet helped him through his dark days of depression. Refusing medication, and with his doctor’s approval, Joie turned to his alligator for comfort, and Wally quickly gained a special place in his owner’s heart through their friendly interactions.

Joie’s house is a proper reptile zoo, featuring a variety of reptiles, ranging from bearded dragons to ball pythons, but Wally, who shares an indoor plastic pond with a smaller rescue alligator named Scrappy, is Joie's favorite. Describing him as a big teddy bear, he points out that Wally, who is a rescue animal himself, has never tried to bite anyone and is afraid of cats. He even tries to befriend the goldfish and bullfrogs he’s meant to eat!

Wally is now a fully licensed emotional support animal, and his loving ways have earned him many fans. He has a team of volunteers who help out Joie on Wally’s regular visits to schools, birthday parties, minor-league baseball games and other events.

A post shared by Wally Gator (@wallygatornjoie)

A photo posted by on on Sep 27, 2020 at 4:51am PDT

Wally also has his own Instagram page and even his own merchandise, such as mugs and T-shirts, to celebrate the impact he’s had on Joie’s life.

It’s a good job Wally is so placid, as this four-year old alligator is likely to reach 16 feet long when he is fully grown. Still, all the more to love!