By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
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By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
All his life, Lobo had the run of his neighborhood. Then last month Montgomery County officials seized the six-year-old, 85-pound Siberian husky mix and sentenced him to die.
Lobo's crime? It's hard to say.
Lobo's owners Erik and Rosalyn Frazier say their family pet may look big and intimidating, but he's really docile and harmless.
"He's a lazy-like, lay-around dog," says 28-year-old Rosalyn Frazier, who is 20 weeks pregnant with her second child. "He sleeps and cuddles with our two-year-old daughter Reagan. All he does is wag his tail and lick you."
Dozens of their longtime neighbors agree. Many have posted signs on their lawns to "Save Lobo." In fact, 18 of the 19 homes on the Frazier family's street signed a petition attesting that Lobo was "falsely accused" and "never exhibited any form of aggression."
The lone household not included on the petition belongs to Matt and Jennifer Calk, who in October 2006 moved from their River Oaks apartment into the woodsy 177 Lake Estates subdivision in southwest Montgomery County. Signs posted by Lobo's owners throughout the neighborhood claim it became the Calk family's "sole purpose in life to have our dog killed."
This is strange, since the Calks are devoted animal enthusiasts who dream of one day owning a pet shop. Husband and wife for years worked at Petco stores in the Galleria and River Oaks areas. Twenty-nine-year-old Matt Calk even participated in animal-rescue efforts in New Orleans in the weeks preceding Hurricane Katrina.
"If anybody loves animals, it's that guy," says Char Close, owner of a popular reptile store in the Montrose neighborhood who has known Matt Calk for years.
But the Calks had problems with Lobo. They say the dog was frequently off his leash and on their property, growling and barking. They worried about their nine-year-old son and Matt Calk's 50-year-old mother, Lisa Luttrell, who lives with them.
Matt Calk and his mom each phoned in numerous complaints to the county's animal control department and filed sworn affidavits that the dog had lunged at them. Luttrell formally requested that the dog be destroyed.
The case eventually landed in court, where after several hearings Justice of the Peace Matt Masden on January 16 ordered Lobo euthanized.
Lobo never bit anyone. Animal control officers never even saw him off his leash, though they were called out to retrieve him nearly a dozen times in the last year. According to the Fraziers, some of the complaints against Lobo were made when the dog was visiting relatives out of state.
The Fraziers appealed Masden's ruling and retained an attorney, then set up a Web site and launched an investigation of their own. They discovered a rookie judge who misinterpreted the law and a top animal control officer who may have lied under oath.
But the county still wouldn't release Lobo. Then the family found seminude photographs of the animal control officer posted online.
Matt Masden has served as a justice of the peace for just one year. The Lobo case marks the 49-year-old former law enforcement officer's first involving an animal dispute.
Masden insists he didn't base his ruling to kill Lobo solely on complaints made by the Calks and Luttrell. "Most of the complaints were from the one family — but it wasn't just them," he says. "There was also a school-district complaint."
John Geiser, who oversees bite-case investigations at the county's animal control department and signed the affidavit to seize and impound Lobo, testified in court that an employee from the Montgomery Independent School District phoned in a complaint about the dog attacking children at a bus stop.
But Geiser failed to document any such complaint, in violation of department policies. A representative for the school district insists no complaint was ever made.
In an interview with the Houston Press on January 22, 2008, Geiser said that another resident, Tina LeBeck, testified in court that her own child was bitten by Lobo. LeBeck could not be reached for comment, but her husband told the Press: "That is a lie — our child was not attacked by a dog."
LeBeck's testimony remains in question since the hearings were not recorded.
On January 28, 2008, Montgomery County Constable Tim Holifield, who oversees the animal control department, opened an internal investigation into Geiser's handling of the Lobo case after receiving several complaints. "We're looking into whether anything was done inappropriately," Holifield says. "If [Geiser] testified untruthfully, I have a great issue with that."
And in a bizarre twist, county officials that same day opened an additional investigation into whether 37-year-old Geiser used county equipment to maintain his MySpace page, which includes several suggestive photographs and statements while also citing Montgomery County as his employer.
The site features a photograph of Geiser posing shirtless with pants unzipped beneath a tag labeled "Sex Fiend: Nymphos, Sluts & Freaks Welcome." On the site, he describes his mood as "horny" and writes, "...if you're a hottie with tattoos and piercings, I definately [sic] want to hear from you!! Any bi girls that think my wife and I are hot drop us a line!"
The Fraziers, seeking any opportunity to damage the county's credibility and save their pet, discovered Geiser's MySpace page last Monday and reported it to Holifield. "It is my goal to get John Geiser fired," says Rosalyn Frazier's sister, Kimberly Parrish, who posted the link on her Web site, savelobo.com, which has received hundreds of hits from supporters.