Animal shelter responds to allegations of deplorable conditions


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 1 at 9:52 PM

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas -- It's a much different scene at the Bastrop County Animal Shelter compared to photos volunteers posted on Facebook.

The photos showed dogs with severe mange, urine in their water bowls, dirty laundry stacked high and cages covered in filth.

"One of the main concerns was medical issues not being addressed," said volunteer Anne Ford.

"What hurts me is the people of Bastrop are hearing untrue facts about the shelter and then feeling really angry, and the social media movement has created all this distrust," Animal Shelter Director Diane Mollaghan said.

Because of the conditions at the shelter, some volunteers went before the Bastrop County Commission calling for a new director. Commissioners denied their request and announced a new plan: anyone wishing to volunteer must sign a contract and no more photos should be released to the public.

"Some of the photos we were using for pending criminal cases were getting posted on Facebook. That's not ok," Mollaghan said.

"You're to be subject to county policies with confidentiality and social media. So by signing this contract you're agreeing to this," Ford said.

"Volunteers are no longer allowed at the shelter. As a result the animals are no longer getting the social interaction they need," Ford added.

The director said the shelter houses about 100 dogs and 50 cats, and works off a budget of half a million dollars.

The volunteers say they want the animals to have more medical attention and less euthanizations.

"It's just really hurtful when the community is basically sent in a tailspin of lies," Mollaghan said.

"We really want volunteers here again. We don't want to get embroiled in some big political thing. We just want to help the animals," Ford said.

The director admits more work needs to be done, but said she's taking the right steps.

On Friday, the shelter appeared in better condition. The food bowls had been cleaned and the dirty laundry was removed.

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