Stop Treating Alligators and Other Wildlife as Pets

Target: Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control

Goal: Ban the use of exotic animals as emotional therapy or service pets.

Wally–a four-and-a-half-foot alligator–has gained notoriety in recent weeks as the emotional service animal to reptile rescuer and Philadelphia resident Joie Henney. Henney brings Wally with him on walks to the park, grocery store runs, and even sleeps in bed with him. While the sentiment may seem sweet, many believe the situation is making a mockery of actual therapy animals, which many people depend on to function.

Alligators are wild animals–and dangerous ones at that. Unlike dogs and cats, alligators do not necessarily show affection towards humans. Alligators have a tendency to act aggressively and can be highly unpredictable. These animals do not meet the standard requirements of a therapy animal, and should not be treated as such.

Sign this petition to prevent the ownership of wild animals as therapy pets.


Dear Director Walensky,

A Philadelphia resident, Joie Henney, has recently gained internet notoriety for his unusual service animal companion, a four-and-a-half-foot alligator named Wally. While this pairing has sparked the interest of many, some feel as though the portrayal of Henney’s relationship with Wally is a disservice to people who rely on therapy animals for all aspects of life. Alligators are wild animals and do not have the proper qualifications necessary for a therapy animal, in the typical sense.

Unlike dogs, cats, or horses, alligators are in no way domesticated and are extremely unpredictable. Therapy animals are not just “pets;” they are animals that must go through a rigorous training program to learn how to help people function in daily settings.

We are asking you, Ms. Walensky, to ban the use of dangerous, exotic animals as therapy animals. Wildlife doesn’t belong in homes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: National Parks Gallery

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