Lights & Sirens

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Wallaby jumps out in front of sheriff’s deputy

Post by Stacia Glenn / The News Tribune on Feb. 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
February 2, 2012 5:40 pm
Courtesy of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department

A wallaby who wandered away from her Gig Harbor home today did what any lost being would do: find a police officer to guide her back to safety.

Mia, 4, somehow snuck out of her backyard and hopped across 87th Avenue Northwest just as Pierce County sheriff’s deputy Dan Wulick was swinging home for lunch.

“I stopped and pulled over and shook my head a couple times and went, ‘Did I just see that?’” Wulick said. “I grabbed my phone and took a couple pictures because I figured people would think I was crazy.”

Not wanting to be teased relentlessly, Wulick did not call for help on his radio. Instead, he dialed dispatch from his cell phone and, amid chuckles, asked for two other deputies in the area to assist him.

They corralled the 13-pound wallaby in a nearby backyard and waited for Animal Control officers to arrive with a net.

Wulick said Mia did not appear scared and just sat, watching.

Her owners mused that the wallaby was probably waiting for a snack. Mia prefers potato chips, crackers or bread.

After the wallaby was netted, Wulick began knocking on doors. He assumed Mia lived in the neighborhood since she kept circling the same area.

Within 10 minutes, Wulick rapped on Joel Wojtanowicz’s front door and asked if he had a wallaby. Wojtanowicz said yes. Wulick asked where it was. Wojtanowicz said she was in the backyard. Wulick laughed and suggested he double check.

“I guess in this job, the bizarre happens,” Wulick said.

The Wojtanowiczs adopted Mia four years ago from a wallaby farm in Arlington. When they owned a pet store years ago, their daughters saw wallabies advertised and pleaded for one. Their parents declined, saying the time wasn’t right.

But after another pet died and the girls tackled permitting problems and other obstacles, the Wojtanowiczs relented.

“Our baby. She’s amazing,” said Wendy Wojtanowicz.

As a school board member for Peninsula School District, Wojtanowicz sometimes takes Mia to elementary schools to visit with the children. Mia is also a regular at the PetCo in Gig Harbor.

Mia has escaped in the past but usually when somebody forgets to latch the gate. This time, the Wojtanowiczs are surprised she got loose because they just moved into their home three weeks ago and their new fence is two feet taller.

“She’s smart enough to find a police officer though, just like we teach our children,” Wojtanowicz said.

Wulick is delighted to be the deputy Mia found, especially since his backyard borders the Wojtanowiczs and he now has permission to pet Mia whenever he wants.

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