Man Has Alligator As Emotional Support Animal After It Helped Him Through Depression
A man from Pennsylvania has such a strong bond with his pet alligator that he's now had it registered as his very own emotional support animal, having been inspired to do so after the reptile helped him out of the pits of depression.
Joie Henney is the proud owner of a household of reptiles, ranging from bearded dragons to ball pythons.
But there's one creature that he's grown particularly fond of, and that's his four-year-old pet alligator Wally.
Henney said: "I went through a real hard depression, and he brought me out of it.
"He was just constantly cuddling and holding me. I'd take a nap and wake up and he'd be laying on my head."
Speaking of how the set-up came about, he continued: "My doctor wanted to give me anti-depressant medicine and I refused to take it.
"30 days later when I went in to see my doctor and she said, 'Well, what did you do? You're doing really good'.
"I said, 'I hung out with Wally!'"
Henney's doctor said the change was 'incredible' and went on to provide a letter stating that Wally is an emotional support animal, and now he has all the required legal documents, including a card and certificate.
While Henney admitted that having a federally licensed emotional support alligator is a little 'crazy', he insists that Wally enjoys a very happy life at home with him.
Despite the fact his mate has around 80 'razor sharp' teeth, Henney maintains that Wally is a very 'loveable' beast.
Henney said: "He is far from a typical alligator.
"He loves cuddling, he loves giving kisses, hugs - it's just incredible."
As well as being free to roam Henney's home, alongside fellow 'gator Scrappy, Wally also leads a very social life.
With his harness firmly attached, the lucky pet regularly gets taken for walks in the park, and sometimes Henney will go swimming with him in the river. The proud owner even takes Wally into local restaurants every now and again, too.
With a solid fan-base, Henney also takes Wally to schools, birthday parties, shopping malls and other events to show the alligator off to others.
Henney, who has been a huge fan of reptiles ever since he was a kid, continued: "A lot of people say 'Well, why don't you put him out somewhere else and turn him back out into the wild?'
"You can't do that. When an alligator is rescued they're classified as a 'nuisance gator'."
And if you're wondering what an emotional support alligator might eat on a day-to-day basis if he's not out in the wild hunting prey - well, chicken wings, of course.
Featured Image Credit: Marcus Cooper/Barcroft Media via Getty Images