Former animal shelter volunteers who have called for Animal Control director Diane Mollaghan’s ouster for a month — much to the dismay of county commissioners who felt they were overstepping their bounds — might finally get their wish.
Mollaghan was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, her second such arrest in six years, putting her future at the shelter in doubt. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said commissioners will meet Friday to discuss Mollaghan’s future. “A second conviction brings more severe penalties so by code it may be difficult for her to fulfill her duties,” said Pape after Monday’s commissioners’ meeting. While Mollaghan’s arrest was not publicly discussed, Pape and Commissioner Gary Snowden expressed concern.
The arrest occurred Friday night, after several former volunteers shared information on Facebook about Mollaghan, who was spotted at two downtown watering holes, Cindy’s Downtown and the Bastrop Brewhouse, said Cynthia Wickliffe, a former volunteer who is with Bastrop Animal Rescue.
Later Friday, somebody called the police to report that an intoxicated woman was leaving the Brewhouse and heading to her car.
A police affidavit details what officer Brandon Newton saw when he arrived: Mollaghan was heading down the busy Loop 150 at about 5 mph when she swerved into oncoming traffic and nearly collided head-on with another car. Mollaghan overcorrected, hit a guard rail and then backed into the officer’s patrol car. She was so intoxicated, Newton wrote in the affidavit, that he didn’t give her a field sobriety test. Mollaghan agreed to have her blood drawn at St. David’s Hospital in Bastrop.
It was the second driving while intoxicated arrest for Mollaghan, 40, who was convicted of DWI in 2007, according to Travis County court records.
At Monday’s commissioners’ meeting, Mollaghan raised eyebrows with a proposal to randomly drug test volunteers, as part of her reorganization plan for the shelter. Volunteers have been temporarily banned from the shelter for about a month while the plan is drafted.
Wickliffe said proposed volunteer applications call for drug testing and request personal financial information. While noting considerable improvement at the shelter over the past month, Wickliffe said Mollaghan’s proposals “discouraged people from volunteering.”
“Why do they need my financial information to walk a dog? asked Anne Ford of Austin Dog Rescue who also spoke against Mollaghan’s reorganization plan.
After the meeting, Snowden said changes to the volunteer application form are likely. Commissioners had asked Mollaghan on Jan. 28 for the reorganization plan. It was the same day they decided behind closed doors to give Mollaghan a chance to revamp the troubled shelter that volunteers complained was mismanaged to the extent that animals’ health was at risk. Commissioners said they liked her initial progress.
The drunken driving arrest is a setback. “I’m very concerned, and we’re still in the process of reviewing her,” Snowden said.