January 31, 2019

Man’s “emotional support ‘gator” strains the definition of “service animal”

David MenziesMission Specialist

One needn’t look any further for proof that dog is indeed man’s best friend than the seeing-eye dogs that provide support to the visually-impaired, and in recent years, other species have been getting in on this service animal business too.

We’re talking monkeys, ferrets and even miniature horses that provide support to their owners, even if it’s just emotional support as opposed to actual navigation.

Which brings me to the bizarre case of Joie Henney, a Pennsylvania man who says he needs the emotional support of his service animal to help him deal with depression.

The thing is, Joie’s service animal is an alligator...

A New York Post story tells the tale that I’m pretty sure will be made into a movie one day. Joie really loves hugging his emotional support gator, and what’s more, he frequently takes Wally out for meet-and-greets to senior centres and baseball games.

The photos accompanying the story make for a Kodak Moment, but why do I get the idea that this is less about the bonding of man and reptile, and more about little Wally sizing Joie up for a future date when he’s not so little any more?

I’m no reptile expert, but I’ve got a queasy feeling there will be a follow-up story in the not too distant future that will end exactly the way you expected.

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commented 2019-02-01 07:49:14 -0500
Well, I hope that guy does not learn the hard way the true nature of his gator “friend”.
commented 2019-02-01 06:49:56 -0500
I guess in a year or two Joie will have new boots and a freezer full of alligator steaks. He may be missing a few fingers, but revenge is always sweet.
commented 2019-02-01 00:36:49 -0500
And, call me crazy, but I like Alligators and Crocodiles too…
commented 2019-02-01 00:32:17 -0500
Pitbull’s are one of the best/most loyal dogs out there….
commented 2019-01-31 23:29:30 -0500
Charred Remains…sounds interesting, but I’m downsizing myself. Viking 1948 Transistor Radio or Sony made of wood.
Charred, years ago my friend was drilling for a well around there and 60’ down there was a piece of preserved wood that had to have come from a sawmill thousands of years before.
commented 2019-01-31 21:58:41 -0500
I had a alligator at university. Great conversational pet!
commented 2019-01-31 21:35:57 -0500
@Robert Dunning – and if Joie dies first, the alligator has several days worth of food in Joie!

I don’t envy the airline employee that has to tell Joie that his “service animal” cannot board the plane unless he first removes all its teeth. (He’d probably have to amputate the tail too; I think the tail can hit people with enormous force and break bones but I could be mistaken.) Then again, given the rampant SJW culture, it wouldn’t really surprise me if the airline let the alligator aboard because they were terrified about being sued if they deny Joie his support gator.

I really don’t understand how a grown adult can be incapable of functioning in public without a support critter. I get that a 4 year old might be comforted by a favourite teddy bear but an adult having to take a dog, monkey, ferret, horse or ALLIGATOR with him wherever he goes? That makes no sense at all to me. Have these people become completely infantilized?

What about the impact on those around the person with the service animal? If the horse takes a dump in the plane, who cleans it up? If the alligator bites someone, who’s going to deal with that? Some apes, like chimpanzees, are extremely strong – four times as strong as a human – and could hurt people very badly if they lose their cool and it’s not hard to imagine them losing their cool in an unusual environment (for them) like a plane or in a mall.
commented 2019-01-31 21:01:06 -0500
How nice it woould be to have a guide skunk. Nobody would mess with me then. My furry friend would be useful for parting crowds too. :-)
commented 2019-01-31 19:15:28 -0500
He says its just like a dog but a dog wont eat you but a crockadile will.
commented 2019-01-31 19:04:12 -0500
I guess it’s no more dangerous than walking your big pitbull. In fact you read of hundreds more human deaths regarding pitbulls than with alligators.
commented 2019-01-31 18:27:10 -0500
Alligators are wild animals. It’s a bit of a stretch to classify them as “service animals”.
commented 2019-01-31 17:14:15 -0500
when it dies he has free alligator boots. good for him.