Central Coast dog burned in fiery fight that led to owner’s death. He needs a new home

·4 min read

Charlie the dog needs a new forever home.

Los Alamos-based dog rescuer Jen Curtis has helped the canine recover from bad burns he suffered in a domestic dispute that ultimately led to his owner’s death and landed the man’s son in jail.

“Obviously, his dad raised him really well, because he’s a good dog,” Curtis said about Charlie. “He’s just a good solid well-trained dog. Despite his circumstances, he’s a very happy dog, and he clearly was really loved by his person.”

Charlie is approximately 3 years old and weighs roughly 50 to 60 pounds. His terrier appearance mixed with a husky’s chattiness, she said.

“He must be part husky, because he’s very much a talker,” she said, adding that Charlie will chat to his toys or if he sees the leash.

Curtis often visits the Santa Maria Animal Shelter to help find homes for dogs or transfer them to a friend’s rescue organization in Oregon.

During a shelter visit, she saw Charlie recuperating in a medical room and learned some of his story.

Dog burned in domestic dispute in Lompoc

The dog was burned June 11 when Joseph Ashley Garcia, 40, of Lompoc allegedly set his father on fire at their residence, according to law enforcement reports.

Officers responded at 3:30 p.m. to a residence on the 200 block of North D Street on a report of a father and son fighting. They also received a report that the son was beating the father.

As officers arrived, they asked Garcia to open the door so they could check on his father.

When he did not comply, officers forced open their way into the residence.

“Once the door was kicked in, the officers could see that father’s head was completely engulfed in flames,” a prosecution motion said, adding that the fire was quickly extinguished.

Charlies also was on fire, and ran out the front door, according to the legal paperwork.

The father, 68-year-old Joseph Michael Garcia, had third-degree burns, and was airlifted by helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital before being transferred to a burn center.

He died June 21, and his son now faces a murder charge.

Charlie fled from the house, but later was captured and taken to the Santa Barbara County Animal Services shelter.

His burns were confined to his right shoulder and an area toward his ribs. He also had a singed ear and fur.

“It was painful for him,” she added.

As Charlie joined the Curtis family, she continued his care, putting cream and antibiotic spray on the burns, and outfitting the dog in a shirt for extra protection during trips outside.

Nearly two months later, his burns have mostly healed, she said.

Charlie loves people and other dogs, and enjoys trips in the car, Curtis said. He likes playing with his stuffed animals, tossing them around while talking, of course, to his toys.

“There’s a bad aspect to this story, but the great thing is he’s a happy dog and loves people, and loves other dogs, and just talks to you,” she said.

Anyone interested in adopting Charlie can contact Curtis by email at jcurtisrun@yahoo.com.

Man accused of setting father on fire faces murder charge

Meanwhile, the son’s attorney has declared doubts about his client’s mental competency, and a judge ordered evaluations by two medical experts.

However, Garcia refused to meet with a third doctor.

He also attempted to fire his attorney, but the judge denied the attempt, along with a different request to represent himself in the case.

Garcia remained in custody of the Northern Branch Jail on Tuesday morning without bail.

He is charged with murder, plus a special circumstance for infliction of torture, meaning he would face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

His case returns to Lompoc Superior Court on Wednesday.

A celebration of life for Joseph Michael Garcia will be held at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at the American Legion Post 211, 636 North H St., Lompoc.

Funeral arrangements are under the care of Starbuck-Lind Mortuary.

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 .