Lompoc man charged with animal abuse had previous arrests

Edward Van Tassel arrested in 2008 after standoff

Lompoc man charged with animal abuse...

LOMPOC, Calif. - It was a scene startling to many drivers back in 2008, Edward Van Tassel stopped traffic on the 101 during a three hour stand-off with police on the La Cumbre overpass. 

During court hearings for those charges, it was revealed he suffers from PTSD after serving in Iraq. 

On Friday, Van Tassel was in front of a judge again - this time facing animal cruelty charges.

"In a case like this where something quite honestly so dark occurred - it requires our attention and we conducted an investigation like we would with really any other kind of crime," says Sgt. Kevin Martin of the Lompoc Police Department. 

Pooh the puppy was rescued by Lompoc firefighters when a fire broke out in Van Tassel's garage; that's when investigators discovered the trauma the puppy was enduring.

"It had very tight bands around the muzzle and around the two hind legs, there was swelling as a result of the bands being around the dog," explains Jan Glick, Animal Services Director for Santa Barbara County. 

Animal Services seized the puppy and have been taking care of it ever since. Van Tassel tried to get his dog back in an administrative hearing but failed.

Outside the hearing, Lompoc Police arrested him. "All of us are pet lovers and the last thing we ever want to see is an animal treated in that manner," Sgt. Martin says. 

The puppy is now with a foster family but will eventually be available for adoption. "I think the puppy is doing well and we have every hope and confidence it will be able to live a normal life," says Glick. 

Van Tassel is currently being held on $20,000 bail. Police say if you suspect a neighbor of abusing animals, contact Animal Control immediately.

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