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Puppy Returned After Being Stolen From S.D. Cop Recovering From Surgery

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A South Dakota police officer battling brain cancer was in surgery when his dog was stolen from him, but this story has a happy ending.

Aberdeen investigators used good old-fashioned police work to try and bring Officer Briston Bruce's German shepherd pup back home. Their leads brought them five hours away to the Twin Cities, where they got help from all kinds of people.

"When you find out it's another officer, and the condition he was in, the motivation kind of becomes obvious," Detective Carter Staaf of the Eden Prairie Police Department said.

Staaf has never met Bruce -- their departments are more than 300 miles apart -- but law enforcement is like one big family, and within the first 30 seconds of a phone call last week, Staaf knew he wanted to help anyway he could.

"They told me a puppy was stolen, but here's the deal, it was one of our officers and it happened while he was having surgery to remove a brain tumor," he said.

The call was from Aberdeen Police. While in surgery, Officer Bruce's home was broken into. Electronics were stolen. So was Poppy, the family's 4-month-old pup. A suspect in the case, who was from Eden Prairie, told police that Officer Bruce's dog was somewhere in Minneapolis.

poppy 2
(credit: Eden Prairie Police Department)

"She had almost hit Poppy in the alley because it was very dark out," said Terry White.

White didn't know anything about a missing police dog, but after his neighbor's close call near his south Minneapolis home Wednesday night, he took the stray in.

"I took her picture and posted it up on Next Door and on the lost dogs of Minnesota," he said.

After nearly a week of searching, Detective Staaf and his wife came across the post and they knew they had found the missing pup. They contacted White and picked Poppy up Sunday afternoon.

Now, she's back home in Aberdeen with Officer Bruce and his family.

"You would get a lead on where the dog was and the dog wouldn't be there, nd you're just riding this roller coaster of ups and downs," Staaf said. "When it was finally confirmed that this was the right dog, how can you just not be thrilled? It's emotional. It's fantastic."

White, who is running for Minneapolis City Council, said the stray dog gave him a little break from campaigning.

Police did arrest 18-year-old Hassan Mohamoud Yusuf of Eden Prairie in this case. He faces several charges including first degree burglary.

Officer Bruce is still recovering from emergency brain surgery to remove a tennis-ball-sized tumor. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help him and his family.

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