Wallaroo chase in Peru: Owner said fishermen arrived at right time to rescue his pet from Illinois River
‘It was lucky of them to be there at the time, because he was kind of giving up’
Wally the wallaroo was rescued from the Illinois River — but not before he took Peru police on a wild chase for roughly a couple hours Wednesday afternoon throughout town.
“I have never ran like that,” said the pet’s owner Nathan Drewel. “I was surprised it was hours of him just running around.”
Wally initially escaped from his Drewel’s Peru home early afternoon after slipping through his harness.
“It was normal, just letting him outside,” Drewel said. “He had his harness and there was one strap that was too loose on him and he got off it and took off. This was the first time.”
Peru Police received the call at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday and immediately began the search for Wally.
The wallaroo made its way past the post office, the American Red Cross building, the vicinity of the U.S. 6 ramp to Route 251 and along the railroad tracks on Water Street. While wallaroos move swiftly, some up to 30 mph, police kept tabs on its every move, radioing updates to each other and following it.
Wally’s owner and police were able to find the wallaroo taking a short rest in some brush located between Maze Lumber and the Illinois River.
While officials waited for animal control, the wallaroo spontaneously tried to evade those close to him and stumbled down the river bank and into the river.
The Peru River Rescue team was then called as Wally began treading water. It was radioed the rescue team would take about 30 minutes to reach the location.
Drewel then went down to the riverbank to try and call Wally toward the shore but it was to no avail.
As police sent for the team they spotted a nearby fishing boat. Officials and bystanders flagged down the boat as the fishermen picked up Wally in a net.
Drewel said he was fortunate to see the fishermen and said it was a case of being at the right place at the right time.
“It was just two fishermen,” Drewel said. “It was lucky of them to be there at the time, because he was kind of giving up, you could tell he was giving up.”
Wally was crated and transported to Bridgeview Animal Hospital. Dr. Allison Spayer treated him there, noting he was cold from the water and had what appeared to be a few abrasions.
Wally was wrapped in blankets and heating pads to help bring up his temperature to normal after spending many minutes treading the cold water.
Drewel said he has owned the almost 2-year-old wallaroo for about six to seven months.
“I’ve always been into exotic animals,” Drewel said. “I love animals and a wallaroo is something I’ve always wanted.”
Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei said a preliminary inquiry found the wallaroo is owned lawfully and by a state permit.
The total chase lasted two hours and ended safely with the help from all parties involved.
“It would be very difficult to explain how this crazy adventure affected so many people and how all of the police, fire, city employees and so many citizens were cheering for a rescue before it was too late,” Bernabei said. “With only seconds to spare the rescue was made.”
Wally should be able to go home with Drewel on Wednesday night with plans to return for follow up X-rays to ensure he wasn’t internally injured during the chase that had the community following along on social media.