Man’s ‘Emotional Support’ Alligator Goes Missing in Georgia

A Pennsylvania man’s “emotional support” alligator was reported missing during a vacation in Georgia. Joie Henney has lived with his alligator Wally for almost a decade and documents their lives together online. The 65-year-old regularly posts video clips showing him cuddling the 1.7-meter-long animal, whom he credits with helping him tackle years of illness and depression.  Henney’s social media follower figures exploded last year when he attempted to bring his reptilian pal to a Philadelphia Phillies game but was denied entry. Video footage from outside the stadium showed several curious onlookers interacting with the animal and even kissing and cuddling it.

In April, Wally accompanied Mr. Henney on vacation to Brunswick, Georgia, but the man was left devastated when the alligator vanished from his enclosure. Speaking on social media, a tearful Mr. Henney said he believes someone stole his pet and used him in a prank. He explained that Wally was left on somebody’s doorstep and then captured by authorities and released into swampland. Henney explained that trappers told him his chances of finding Wally again were “slim to none.”

The heartbroken man asked people to pray that Wally is safe and sound. “We need all the help we can get with bringing my baby back,” he said.

Wally is a licensed support alligator who Henney says helped him recover from prostate cancer and has been his inseparable pal for several years. The Emotional Support Animal (ESA) registration organization says there are over 115,000 such animals in the United States. They are known to help reduce stress and anxiety and help people tackle mental health problems. The most common types of ESAs are dogs and cats, but some people rely on animals of all kinds to help them through life.

Among the most unusual known ESAs are dolphins, kangaroos, camels, wolves, cows, turkeys, llamas, peacocks, donkeys, monkeys, and even spiders. Members of a tarantula owners’ Facebook group insist the creatures have helped them beat depression.