PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (KFOR/Storyful) – Yes, you read the headline correctly – an emotional support alligator. But Wally the Alligator truly is an emotional support animal for his reptile-loving owner, who is suffering from cancer.
A young girl is seen in the video at the top of this story walking Wally on a leash through Philadelphia’s LOVE Park. The girl is believed to be acquainted with Wally’s owner, Joie Henney. Wally seems to be thoroughly enjoying the splash pad, plopping down in the water, and allowing anyone and everyone to give him pets.
Wally is a 7-year-old alligator who loves to give hugs, according to his owner Joie Henney, who adopted Wally in 2016.
According to the Philly Voice, Wally is leading the votes in the America’s Favorite Pet online popularity contest, where Henney writes, “WallyGator lives in the house. At night he likes to climb into my bed and steal my covers and pillow. WallyGator has tried to bring my blankets with him into his pond!”
Henney adds, “WallyGator is an amazing creature. He senses people emotions and gives hugs to try to cheer people up. He has been a huge support for me during my battle with cancer. He has come with me to radiation and has brought cheer to other patients and the doctors and nurses.”
The America’s Favorite Pet winner will receive $10,000, which Henney hopes to use to care for his reptiles while he undergoes cancer treatment, should Wally win.
A GoFundMe has also been set up, which states, “We are fundraising to support Joie, WallyGator and Friends Reptile Rescue. We would like to help Joie Henney to be able to feed and care for the reptiles he take in while he is battling cancer.”