By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
By Jeff Balke
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Ben DuBose
At the hearing, Masden told the Fraziers he was "tired of dealing with this" and vowed that if there was "one more complaint about this animal getting out of his fence, I will have him put down," according to the Fraziers. Masden insists he never made these remarks, though they were confirmed by Geiser, who took notes.
The Fraziers did not appeal the "dangerous dog" ruling — a decision they later regretted.
"I never saw this escalating like this," Erik Frazier says.
According to state law, the owner of a dangerous dog must take the following steps: Register the dog with animal control, which usually includes an annual fee of about $50; restrain the dog at all times on a leash or in a secure enclosure; obtain liability insurance coverage of at least $100,000 to cover damages resulting from an attack; and comply with municipal and county requirements.
On September 11, 2007, Geiser signed a form acknowledging that the Fraziers were in full compliance with the law.
Then early last month, Lisa Luttrell filed complaints with animal control on a near-daily basis that Lobo was off his leash and roaming the neighborhood. Rosalyn Frazier disputes this.
On January 11, 2008, Masden issued a warrant to impound Lobo. Erik Frazier had been away that entire week visiting his ailing father in Iowa. On the morning he returned, a pair of animal control officers seized his dog.
On January 16, in a hearing that lasted maybe ten minutes, Masden ordered Lobo destroyed.
"I thought our petitions would open the judge's eyes," Erik Frazier says.
But Masden's mind was already made up.
"I was instructed they had petitions," Masden says. "I did not — no, I did not look at the petitions."
Matt Calk stands in his driveway one recent afternoon chain-smoking Camel Lights. Short and skinny with wispy blond hair, he leans back against an old Buick, his black-and-white sneaker pressed against the bumper. The air is bitterly cold, but he doesn't seem to notice.
"They think I'm trying to kill dogs in the neighborhood," he says, shaking his head. "When I feel threatened, I gotta react. It doesn't take my son getting bit for something to happen."
Matt and Jennifer Calk say they moved from Houston to 177 Lake Estates seeking a safe, peaceful community to raise their son.
"We came out here to get away from the sexual predators that are out there," Matt Calk says. "We really didn't want to be out here and be the outcasts."
Even with Lobo locked up during these last several weeks, the couple insisted on accompanying their son to his bus stop, and no longer let him outdoors unsupervised.
"We don't know how angry people are," says Jennifer Calk, pointing to the "Save Lobo" sign in her next-door neighbor's yard.
Her husband adds: "Residents here walk with sticks."
For years, it was not at all uncommon to see small packs of dogs roaming the subdivision's streets. Today some owners say they are no longer letting their dogs out, fearing retribution. Some are building fences.
"My dog Maggie is the real terror of the neighborhood," says 75-year-old Anna Thomas, who lives next door to the Fraziers. "Lobo is a breeze compared to my brat dog."
Thomas prominently displays a "Save Lobo" sign in her front yard, pointing out that she scrawled the words on the back of an old campaign poster to "Elect Matt Masden for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5."
Many of Masden's staunchest supporters have turned against him since his ruling on Lobo.
The Web site savelobo.com for weeks has served as a vibrant community forum, garnering hundreds of impassioned and frequently hostile comments. Many expressed love for Lobo and disgust with Masden and the Calk family.
"This judge is a total A**Hole and he needs to be euthanized along with the neighbor who complains not the dog," wrote one resident.
Another chimed in: "Let Lobo live peacefully with his loving family. If his psycho neighbor gets his way, it's only a matter of time before he comes after someone else's beloved pet."
Teri Suehs, a longtime former election judge and precinct chairman who lives on the other side of the Fraziers, voted for Masden and even hosted a meet-and-greet at her home back in October 2006 to support his candidacy. Now she questions his judgment.
"The first thing he does is screw up the neighborhood," says Suehs, who is particularly upset that Masden did not bother to glance at the petitions of community support. "Everybody loves Lobo. This whole thing's all wrong. Why would you euthanize a dog for barking?"
Two days before county officials seized Lobo, Suehs heard what sounded like a firecracker blast across the street, which quickly filled with police cars. She later learned a petty domestic dispute had turned deadly.
Standing in her yard smoking a Marlboro Light, 38-year-old Christy Moore says that night her older brother shot and killed her new boyfriend for deleting some programs from her computer.
"First my house becomes a murder scene and now they want to kill Lobo," says Moore. "I don't think there's ever been anything that's happened like this in this neighborhood."