Twinsburg police say goodbye to K-9 Yasso

Jeff Saunders
Kent Weeklies
Retired Twinsburg police K-9 Yasso died Sept. 24 at age 12. He served with the department for eight years.

TWINSBURG — The police department is mourning the death of one of its four-legged own following the death of retired police K-9 Yasso on Sept. 24.

Yasso had been living with his handler, Officer Yamil Encarnacion.

“Very sad to see his passing,” said Assistant Police Chief Bob Gonsiewski. “He came in [Sept. 24] and we all got to say goodbye to him, so that was very nice Yamil brought him in.”

The department announced Yasso’s death at age 12 on its Facebook page the day he died.

“He has left our earthly world for a much better place … Our thoughts our with Yamil and his family,” said the post.

Gonsiewski said Yasso was euthanized because he was having trouble walking due to hip problems, a common issue for German shepherds, especially as they age.

“Having been a former K-9 handler myself, I know how rough that is,” he said. “When a dog you’ve worked with all these years has to be put down, it’s one of the most difficult things to do.”

Yasso retired in October 2017 after eight years on the job. He had been limited to drug work during his final few months.

“Eight years is longer than most police dogs serve,” Gonsiewski said at the time. “The average work life is about six years.”

Police K-9’s live with their handlers and under a state law, Encarnacion was able to purchase Yasso from the city for $1 when Yasso retired. Yasso’s position was taken by K-9 Caesar, now 5, who is still on the job.

Caesar is Encarnacion’s second dog and lives with him as well.

“We’ve been able to assist in calls ranging from locating narcotics to locating a missing person or tracking an individual,” Encarnacion said of his partnership with Yasso in 2017. “The presence of Yasso has added to a level of safety and peace of mind for officers. But most gratifying is the positive interaction and hopefully positive impact we’ve had with everyone at National Night Out, open houses and during school visits.”

Yasso was the city’s fourth police K-9 since it started the program in 1996. Gonsiewski was the department’s first K-9 handler.

“The bond [between handler and dog] is greater than one can put into words,” said Encarnacion in 2017.

“Bless you dear K9 Yasso! Rest In Peace,” says another comment left on the police department’s Facebook page.

Editor’s note: Correspondent Ken Lahmers contributed to this story.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.