Emotional support alligator visits senior home, is just like a dog, owner says

Joie Henney’s emotional support animal is a head turner. Meet Wally the alligator.

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Wally is around 3 years old, about 4 ½ feet long, with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and large eyes. He likes to hang out on the couch and rumple a perfectly made bed, Henney told the York Daily Record recently.

Henney said Wally is like a dog who wants to be loved and petted. And, in fact that’s what the former host of “Joie Henney’s Outdoors,” a hunting and fishing show on ESPN from 1989 until 2000, told residents at the Glatfelter Community Center in York County during a visit there with Wally.

Henney said Wally is a pretty mellow alligator who likes people -- and not as a potential food source.

Curiosity eventually go the best of folks at the assisted living center, including staffers, and they soon crowded around the gator and its handler.

"I'm not scared of snakes," one woman told the Record, "but that thing has a lot of teeth."

Henney said the alligator particularly liked the top of his head rubbed and that his eyes close like a dog’s when the top of his head is patted.

Credit: Ty Lohr

Credit: Ty Lohr

He helped rescue the gator when it was young, about 14 months old. Henney told Cox Media Group’s National Content Desk the gator was removed from a llagoon at Walt Disney World.

Henney said he always liked alligators, so he agreed to take Wally from a friend who was involved with the rescue.

He said he realized that Wally could be an emotional support animal and he decided to pursue that avenue.

And it seemed the seniors at the facility loved the visit from Wally.

When Wally isn’t engaged in emotional support activities he likes to hang out with Henney’s other gator, Scrappy, in a 300-gallon pond Henney built for the alligators at his home.

Henney also told the Record that Wally loves to watch TV and that some of his favorite foods are rats and chicken.

Credit: Ty Lohr

Credit: Ty Lohr

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