ABERDEEN, S.D. From emergency brain surgery in the beginning of September to having their puppy stolen, the Bruce family has been through quite the ordeal over the past few weeks. Someone abducted Poppy, their then 8-week-old German Shepherd, as Aberdeen Police Officer Briston Bruce and his wife Lille were out of town for his surgery. KSFY's Kayleigh Schmidt sat down with the couple to find out about the efforts to bring her back home.
Poppy's journey started on September 30th while she was staying with Lillie's father. Lille saw something strange on her brother's Snapchat story asking if anyone knew this person over a passport picture. Turns out, Lillie's father's house had been broken into overnight. No one in the house was hurt, but some electronics and the puppy were gone. A backpack and the passport from the Snapchat story were left behind by the suspect.
"The police department here did some investigating, found out that he [the suspect] was actually from Eden Prairie, Minnesota and that's when they started working with the PD out there," Officer Bruce said.
Aberdeen Police Sgt. Chris Gross contacted Eden Prairie Police Det. Carter Staaf a few days after the incident happened. Det. Staaf asked his wife last Saturday night if she had heard anything online about a puppy around their area.
"She just started hopping on social media and working through different areas and she found a site on Facebook that she had learned about... kind of a lost dog Minnesota site," Det. Staaf said.
Around 12:30 a.m. that Sunday morning, Det. Staaf's wife made a discovery.
"I took a look at the dog and the picture wasn't great, but it didn't discount it. It definitely was in the realm and the description was very specific and that was everything, everything was lining up," Det. Staaf said.
Poppy was found wandering the streets of Minneapolis and turned into a shelter in Eden Prairie. Det. Staaf had already given the APD and the Bruce family multiple leads, so he waited to tell Officer Bruce until he was 100% sure.
"I can't remember many things that I've wanted so badly in my career to go right," Det. Staaf said.
And go right they did! Poppy was reunited with the Bruce family just days after that.
"It was like the family's back together, the family's complete," Officer Briston and Lillie said. "The kids loved it. She'll lay on the floor on her blanket and the kids will come up and lay next to her and she just sits there and you can tell she's like this is my family... [she's] glad to be home."
It's a happy ending to a rather stressful month for the Bruce's.
"I think it's just crazy how, I mean if she could talk, she'd have a story to tell," Officer Bruce said.
Police have arrested one man from Eden Prairie. Eighteen-year-old Hassan Mohamoud Yusuf was charged with first-degree burglary, criminal entry of a motor vehicle, forgery, and identity theft. The APD says the crime is still under investigation and more arrests are possible.
The $500 reward is being distributed to the Minnesota residents who helped find Poppy.
If you want to help out Officer Bruce and his family with medical expenses, please visit the GoFundMe page to the right of the article.