A Lompoc firefighter sits near a dog rescued from a burning residence June 6. The dog was found inside a weighted-down box with rubber bands on its muzzle and legs, leading to the arrest of owner Edward Vantassel on suspicion of animal cruelty. (City of Lompoc photo)
  • A Lompoc firefighter sits near a dog rescued from a burning residence June 6. The dog was found inside a weighted-down box with rubber bands on its muzzle and legs, leading to the arrest of owner Edward Vantassel on suspicion of animal cruelty.
  • The owner of a dog rescued from a burning Lompoc residence was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after firefighters discovered the animal with rubber bands binding its muzzle and legs.
  • Lompoc firefightes hold a pet dog that was rescued June 6 from a structure fire in the city. One person sustained minor injuries in the blaze.

A 37-year-old Lompoc man was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after firefighters responding to a house fire found his dog’s muzzle and rear legs had been bound with rubber bands.

Lompoc police detectives arrested Edward Kyle Joseph Vantassel, whose last name also has been spelled as Van Tassel, on Wednesday outside a Santa Barbara County Animal Services building for a hearing on custody of the dog.

On Friday, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office filed the felony charge against Vantassel in Lompoc Superior Court , where the arraignment hearing was continued to June 21, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley said.

The charge stems from an afternoon blaze on June 6 when Lompoc firefighters responded to a structure fire in the 1400 block of Crown Circle where the man was found outside the residence. 

Vantassel told firefighters his dog was still in the residence on the second floor, leading to a search of the building.

“Firefighters located the dog inside of an overturned, weighted-down box in a room on the second floor of the residence,” police Sgt. Kevin Martin said. “Firefighters also discovered the dog's muzzle and rear legs had been bound with rubber bands. “

Firefighters got the dog to safety and cut off the rubber bands before providing the animal with water and alerting Animal Services.

Edward Vantassel
Edward Vantassel (Lompoc Police Department photo)

The dog named Pooh was transported to a local veterinarian for treatment.

Pooh “is doing much better” and is with a foster family, Martin said.

Lompoc police detectives began an animal cruelty investigation, culminating in an arrest warrant for Vantassel.

He was arrested for suspicion of felony cruelty to an animal, with bail initially set at $100,000 and reduced after his court appeareance to $20,000.

Vantassel was transported to the Lompoc Police Department where he was interviewed and booked before being transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, police said. 

In 2008, Vantassel protested the Iraq War with a four-hour standoff on La Cumbre Road overpass near Calle Real.

Sporting a ski mask and military-style fatigues, the man eventually surrendered his revolver. Earlier in the protest, he demanded an Obama-Biden sign that was delivered by a bomb squad robot.

Months later, a judge sentenced the man to five years of probation, 200 hours of community service and ordered him to pay $500.

Authorities previously said that Vantassel, an Army veteran, served in Iraq and was seen for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.