LACOOCHEE, Florida (WTSP) -- For 12 hours, Pasco County dispatchers received calls about a kangaroo on the loose in Lacoochee. Deputy Gene Smith thought it was a prank.
Then came the call at 6:45 a.m. on Sunday, June 2. The rambunctious 'roo was apparently approaching the area around U.S. 301.
"Sure enough, there was a kangaroo in the middle of the road," he says. In his 17 years of service, he says he's never responded to a call like that.
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For hours, he, along with officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Pasco County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Unit, tried to wrangle in the five foot, 200 pound kangaroo. Their mission: bring it back to safety without hurting it. Not even tranquilizers, though, did the trick.
"We attempted to Taser the kangaroo," Smith says. "That had no effect."
Kevin Wehling heard rumors about the kangaroo and wanted to see it for himself. Next thing he knew, he saw it hopping in his direction and says he instantly turned from a spectator into a kangaroo catcher.
"I decided if it came my way, I was gonna dive on it," he says. "It was headed toward 301, and I didn't want to see anybody run it over or get in an accident."
So Wehling drew from his experience wrangling animals on a farm and went to work.
"I bounced it off of a chain link fence and it went to the ground and I decided it wasn't going to get up," he explains. "I was mainly worried about its back legs, and then another deputy jumped on it from there, and it was just a big dog pile after that."
The kangaroo was taken to a veterinarian and is now being looked after by someone in the area who knows how to care for them, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
"It was a pretty big and extremely strong animal," Smith says. "It wasn't until I grabbed those legs that I realized just how strong they were. It doesn't look like that on TV."
It's still unknown who actually owns it. You can legally have one as a pet as long as you have the right permits.
"I believe [the kangaroo] was pretty drugged up. I don't think I would have dove on it if it would have been un-drugged," Wehling says about his experience. "Once you get on top of one of them, on the belly and all that, if you can control the legs, you'll be all right."