“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll get bitten”: can an alligator be man’s best friend? | Animals
Last name: Wally Gator.
Appearance: 1.66 m, 32 kg, razor-toothed reptile.
Occupation: Emotional support alligator.
Say again? He has all the papers.
What do you mean by paperwork? Wally’s owner, Joseph Henney of York, Pennsylvania, has a letter from his doctor stating that the alligator’s company is necessary for Henney’s mental well-being.
If he wants company, why doesn’t he just get a cat? I wouldn’t like the chances of a cat in the same house as Wally.
Wally lives in the house? Wally and Henney sleep in the same bed and curl up on the couch to watch TV together.
I guess what you do in your own house is your own business. Henney also takes WallyGator shopping with him. And last week, Wally made headlines when he was spotted frolicking in the fountains of Love Park in Philadelphia, with passers-by stopping to kiss him.
Is this allowed? He is. WallyGator is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and has been since 2018.
So what? In the United States, the distinction has some legal force. An ESA cannot be banned by a landlord who hates pets, for example, or banned from living in college accommodation. Cats, dogs, hamsters, goats and even peacocks have been claimed as ASE.
Can ESAs board planes? This used to be the case, but the law has recently been strengthened. ESAs are not service animals – they are not trained to assist people with disabilities – and unscrupulous online “ESA factories” have sprung up selling questionable psychological assessments and appearance collar tags. official, leading to an epidemic of fake ASE.
What about the UK? You can get a letter from your GP to show Starbucks staff, but the law doesn’t recognize ESAs.
But you can take your alligator to Starbucks in the US? Not necessarily. In many states, it is illegal to own an alligator in the first place. Not in Pennsylvania, though.
What happens when your emotional support alligator bites someone? WallyGator has never bitten anyone. “He’s super sweet,” Henney says.
Would it be fair to say that Wally is the exception to the general rule of not sharing a bed with alligators? Yes, even Henney would agree. “He’s a very special alligator, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to have one,” he says. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll be bitten.”
What’s next for WallyGator? Henney plans to enter him in an annual contest called America’s Favorite Pet. During this time, Wally will grow longer and heavier and live to be around 80 years old.
Say: “Every day I wake up without eating, it’s a good day.”
Do not tell : “Is that your alligator bag in the luggage compartment?”
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