Emotional support gator at MLB game was misunderstanding, owner says

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 1:11 PM CDT
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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WGAL) - Wally is not a typical emotional support animal. He’s a 5-foot alligator with a large following on TikTok.

When a fan recently invited him to a Philadelphia Phillies game, things did not go as planned.

Wally is an emotional support animal to Joie Henney, who lives in the Harrisburg area. The pair got a lot of attention for a recent visit to south Philly.

“It was just a misunderstanding. That’s all it was,’ Henney said.

Henney said one of Wally’s fans with connections to Phillies players invited the gator with more than 100,000 TikTok followers to Citizens Bank Park to meet members of the team.

“OK, no big deal, so then she went over and bought tickets because Wally’s been to baseball games before,” Henney said. “Nobody took time to ask whether it was OK to bring them in there. Usually nobody has a problem.”

The Phillies official policy is that only guide dogs and service animals can be admitted to the ballpark. Wally does not qualify.

Henney said he was OK with staff telling him that, because Wally only goes where he’s invited.

“Nobody had a hard time over there,” he said. “Everything was calm. Everybody agreed to what was going on.”

But since then, Henney said he is frustrated with the reaction to what happened.

He says people are unfairly criticizing the Phillies for doing nothing wrong, and some believe Wally should not have been there to begin with.

“It did overwhelm me a lot,” Henney said.

Henney says Wally is friendly, and he’s brought him to Philadelphia a number of times. He thinks it was fine for him to be at the game.

Wally was by Henney’s side when he was going through cancer treatment. He credits him with helping him deal with his depression.

And now, Henney brings Wally to hospitals and senior centers to spread cheer.

He says if people are skeptical about a gator being an emotional support animal, they should meet him before judging.

“Until you do that, stop badmouthing him,” he said.