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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The veterinarian who takes care of K-9s for the Wilmington Police Department and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is providing more details about a police dog that’s been off the beat since November.

“You can see (Kaas) is struggling,” Dr. Sam Smith said. “He has had a few bouts of some stress colitis from being cooped up.”

There have been a lot of questions about how K-9 Kaas is doing. Kaas and his handler, Ofc. Stafford Brister have been off duty since November, when Brister put the dog into the car of Johnnie Williams after a chase.

Dr. Smith says he saw Kaas last month for a routine physical and noticed some changes in the dog’s behavior.

“He had to be confined to a cage basically in order to keep him,” Smith said. “I mean, he cannot be free roaming, but his health is great. He is being very well taken care of.”

A WPD spokeswoman said Brister returned to work last week as a patrol officer. Dr. Smith says he hopes Kaas will one day return to the force, as well.

“These guys are family members,” Smith said. “They live with the dogs and really respect each other, and it’s an amazing bond.”

A bond that one K-9 needs.

Dr. Smith adds that even though Kaas is doing OK right now, he worries if another handler will be able to handle the dog if and when he goes back to work.

Comment on this Story

  • SL Brister

    I miss Kaas. My house is empty without him. I did nothing wrong, neither did Kaas. We are being separated as punishment since no law or policy was violated. Kaas now sits in a 10×10 kennel and doesn’t know why his life has suddenly been changes to confinement. Do what you will to me, but to punish Kaas is inhumane.


    I have talked to numerous officers that were there and they sure feel you did not observe protocol. If there was no breach of protocol to some degree Kaas would still be with you!! You placed Kaas in danger when it was not necessary by putting him in the window, think if the perp had a weapon you would have had one dead dog. He (the perp) was pinned in and was going no where. With the number of officers there (guns drawn) his goose was cooked. Yeah his foot was on the gas (wheels just spinning) but he probably did not even realize it with all the adrenaline pumping through him, the same as you had it pumping through you.
    Damn man your training officer and others on the force have even told me and another person, that owns a business you and other officers frequent, that you were over zealous. The officer that has Kaas now even disagreed with the way you handled this.
    You put that dog in for payback and you know it. Now DEAL WITH IT.
    You trained Kaas to be so aggressive that he cannot be placed with anyone else so that comes back to you.

  • Guest2020

    I have a question. I am not judging nor condemning. I just want clarification. Aren’t the police dogs supposed to be kept separately from the family? I know an officer who used to be with a K-9 unit who was told to keep his dog away from his family, especially the kids.

    I hope the best for you and Kaas.

  • Bill OBrien

    You seem to have quite a bit of insight that even the Wilmington PD is not privy to. Maybe you should contact Internal Affairs and provide all of your facts and the names of the officers who are willing to share this info with some business owner in Wilmington but not their own PD.

    If Brister’s training officer is speaking out in public about this situation then he is doing nothing to help the situation beyond giving ignorant armchair quarterbacks (like YOU!) ammunition. I would offer them the same advice that I offer you…SHUT UP! You have no clue what you are speaking about and it seems like all of your “facts” are based on rumors and opinion rather than what actually happened.

  • Guest2020

    If I am not mistaken, he was cleared by the SBI. He was absolutely cleared by the Grand Jury. What is it that you know that they don’t?

    As for the man’s foot being on the gas pedal-did he not realize it when he pressed the gas pedal before and try to run over officers? He had pretended to surrender earlier and then tried to run over police officers with his car.

    And it is customary for a police dog to remain with his handler for life, even if the handler leaves the department. The dogs are usually trained to be a one person dog. At least that is the way it used to be.

  • joe citizen

    Wow Dude…you may some anger issues. The facts are the facts, and the people and officers who form their personal opinions that weren’t there real don’t matter. The SBI investigated it, WPD IA investigated it, and a Grand Jury made up from normal citizens looked at all the evidence too. When all the facts were presented, they all came to the same decision. It seems that you’re the one that needs to “deal with it”. And it sure is funny that you have all these inside connections into WPD but have nothing but hear say as your valid evidence. So if you know what business Brister frequents, why don’t you use that opportunity to hear from the guy himself?
    Come on WPD, you’re beginning to look vengeful by keep the dog from the officer.

  • guest111

    Why can’t the dog go back to work with his original handler? Also. why can’t the dog be with his original handler? Sounds like the dog is being punished in a way, keeping him from his “family”. Sounds a bit cruel to me to cage him up under these circumstances.

  • guesty

    You can be punished even if you are found to have not committed a crime nor violated policy. So they are punishing Officer Brister by making him a patrol officer instead of allowing him back on the special unit he was a member of.

  • Christine Neal

    If his handler is back at work why is this “Office” not back with him? He was only doing his job, this is unacceptable!

  • wilmington mom

    Are you people serious? I believe the dog should be back doing something he was taught to do. The officer is the one in question. Have you not seen the video of what the officer made the dog do? I understand that there should be a bond between the two. I also believe that at the end of the day these animals shouldn’t be allowed to go home with their handlers. There should be a place at the department that they stay the night. I think they need to revamp the situation for these animals aka officers. To keep this from happening again to the animal. The ones who really suffer when their handlers go off the deep end are the animals. So when you call it cruel that remark needs to be pointed at the human who put this animal in its situation.

  • Guest2020

    He cannot go back to work with Officer Brister because Officer Brister has been busted down to patrol duty. He is no longer a K9 officer.

  • Jeb Brown

    This is what happens when you have a vindictive Department Staff that has no care for the personal, Two or Four Legged. 13 years of K-9 Training and experience and he’s answering BS Calls while his partner sinks into nothing in a kennel. Great Job People. NOT!

  • joe citizen

    Wait a Minute…The officer/handler is cleared by the Grand Jury…and is returned to work and no suspension…but his k9 is being kept from him…meaning a drug sniffing crime fight team is taken off the streets and there was no wrong doing…and this is generated by the NAACP…………..i smell a rat!!! WWAY needs to keep up the questions

  • momoftwo

    Wpd is punishing the officer and k9 for fear of lawsuit. They did their job and nothing wrong! Nothing like loyalty to ur cops wpd! Kaas is under stress because of being caged and away from his handler. This vet is full of it. Why was he living his life supposedly caged before this? K9s live free and happily with their handlers and the officers children play with them for crying out loud! I hope they arent looking for a reason to put this dog down. I know the south is known for that and I pray he can be with a loving family or back with his handler. Something smells fishy…blame game!

  • Guest2020

    It says in another report that the dog is with another K-9 handler, which translates to another K-9 officer. I have a family member who used to be a K-9 officer and the dogs he had were kept in pens in his backyard. But, he made sure they had plenty of room and took very good care of them.

  • J.T.T.

    I admittedly have horrible reading comprehension, so I sincerely apologize if I’m missing it, but where is the dog and why does he need to be confined to a cage? Is Kaas currently kept in a cage at the vets or at WPD, or just with a new caretaker? Thanks.


    Kaas is in a pen at another K9 officers home. He is there and right now no decision is being made on what to do with him. The officer keeping him is the one whose dog had to be put down a few weeks ago, he already has another dog he is training.
    Kaas is a very aggressive dog and not really able to be put with another handler. He is not able to accept another handler because of his temperament.
    He is having a hard time being in the pen as he was used to being in the house with Brister. He was part of his family. They might give him to Brister but NOT as a K9 dog to be used on the force.
    I know this for a fact as I talked to the handler that has him today. He frequents a business that my brother in law owns and is a good friend of my brother in law and I have spoken to him numerous times while there about this.
    Lots of WPD visit my brother in laws business and they all say Brister was very gung ho, even the man that trained him has said this for what it is worth.

  • Jones

    Last I checked the agency, and most like it, can move officers in and out of specialized positions as they see fit. Public trust and service are paramount, not the officer’s work preference.

  • CoastalJade

    made the dog do was detain a ‘criminal’.
    That Officer and Dog were in the rights to do so.
    That person ran excessive speeds and blew through police endangering innocent people as well as police officers.
    They had NO idea if that guy would have put it back in gear and floored the gas. I guess you would be okay if an officer was killed because of this pos disregard for lives and laws.


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