By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Before moving into their current house on Trailway Drive, the Fraziers rented a place just four doors down and across the street. Lobo's routine for years included going back to his former home and sniffing around the property. The new owners there didn't mind and often invited him inside for treats.
Then they moved out, the Calks moved in next door to the Fraziers' old residence and the problems began.
Matt Calk says his first run-in with Lobo occurred in December 2006, several weeks after his family first moved into the neighborhood. He was washing his jeep in his driveway when Lobo suddenly appeared. He says he may have startled the dog, which responded by barking and lunging at him.
Matt Calk described the incident in an affidavit filed with animal control several months later, on March 8, 2007. His mother also filed an affidavit that same day recounting her own encounters with Lobo. Lisa Luttrell wrote:
"1/31/07 the dog was outside my front door. As I tried to go outside to meet my grandson he crouched, put his ears back, growled, showed his teeth. I tried to talk to him nicely and playful. He started to bark and become more aggressive then lunged towards me. He held me at this position for approx. 5 minutes. I closed the screen and he left. Another time he barked at me when he was in my backyard."
Luttrell continued: "[Lobo] has been reported to keep children from riding there [sic] bikes by biting their ankles. The school bus drops grade school children off across the street from this dog and I am very concerned."
It remains unclear who has reported that Lobo had bitten children's ankles. Luttrell could not be reached for comment; Matt Calk declined a reporter's request to interview his mom.
Matt Calk says he expressed his concerns about Lobo to the Fraziers three times before ever contacting animal control. The Fraziers say they were never approached.
In addition to the two affidavits, Matt Calk and Lisa Luttrell called animal control to complain about Lobo at least three times in March 2007.
On March 26, 2007, Geiser at animal control signed a "notice of determination" that Lobo be declared a "dangerous dog," hand-delivered to the Fraziers the following week.
There are two legal definitions for a "dangerous dog," according to Chapter 822 of the Texas Health & Safety Code, the law governing regulation of animals.
The first is a dog that "makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury." The second, which was applied in Lobo's case, is a dog that "commits unprovoked acts...and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person."
The Fraziers appealed the determination, and the case landed in Masden's court. At an April 25, 2007, hearing, Masden sided with the Fraziers and instructed the neighbors to exchange phone numbers and work things out themselves.
Then the very next day, Matt Calk called animal control to report that Lobo was off his leash. The Fraziers dispute this.
In the early morning on May 1, 2007, the Calks again complained to animal control. This time, they said that Lobo had lunged at their son as he waited at his school bus stop, located directly in front of the Frazier home.
"The dog was barking crazy at him," says Jennifer Calk, who witnessed the incident while standing in front of her house still wearing pajamas. "I'm surprised he didn't pee his pants."
Later that month, the two families again appeared in Masden's court. The Calks' case was bolstered by resident Tina LeBeck, who reportedly testified that she had witnessed the bus stop incident and even came to the boy's rescue by using her car as a buffer against Lobo.
At this same May 30, 2007, hearing, Geiser testified that a local school-district employee had also complained to animal control about the incident.
"I spoke to somebody from the bus barn myself who said the bus driver was concerned that the dog was going to bite someone," says Geiser, who inexplicably did not document the complaint. "That one, we don't have a name. I don't know who called from the school district or when."
In fact, Jennifer Calk instructed the school bus driver to file a complaint with animal control even though the driver did not witness anything, according to Babette Eikenberg, assistant superintendent for human resources and administrative services at Montgomery Independent School District.
"We're not going to make a call to animal control unless we see it," says Eikenberg, who discussed the matter with the school district's transportation supervisor and the bus driver whose route includes 177 Lake Estates. "The driver never witnessed a dog chasing a child, so we didn't report it."
At the May 30, 2007, hearing, basing his decision at least partly on Geiser's now-disputed testimony, Masden declared Lobo a "dangerous dog" and set the appeal bond at $2,500 — an exorbitant amount, according to Don Feare, the animal-law professor.
"Oh Lord, that's ridiculous," Feare says, adding that the appeal bond was nearly three times the amount it would cost the county to house Lobo for three months.