Williamson dog shelter overrun with gifts
By MARK R. COOK
Starting to flourish now, official says of puppies
FRANKLIN — The 186 dogs, 30 puppies and 14 cats confiscated from the home of a Maltese puppy breeder Thursday night aren’t the only things crowded into Williamson County’s Animal Control shelter.
Now there are stacks of dog food bags and cases of dog food cans, bundles of blankets and newspapers, treats, toys and pet carriers donated by tag-teams of concerned people and businesses from throughout the Midstate.
No charges have been filed against breeder Jennifer Siliski of 2235 Bowman Road, just south of Franklin. But Debby Leddy, assistant director of Animal Control, said yesterday that the case could move forward today following a weekend of detailed examination and inventory of each animal taken.
”The No. 1 question we’re getting is when can we adopt,” Leddy said. She said she doesn’t know because the dogs could be court evidence.
Neither Siliski nor her lawyer, Mark Waters of Franklin, could be reached by telephone yesterday.
So far, one kitten has died of pneumonia and malnutrition, and one newborn puppy has died. Veterinarian Mary Fooshee said one female Maltese is in critical condition from a uterine infection.
”It takes a lot to make me sick,” Fooshee said. ”This made me physically sick.”
Fooshee said several of the puppies were in critical condition when they were removed from the house, but that volunteers had spent the past two days and nights with them getting blood glucose up to safe levels.
”They’re starting to flourish now with all the attention,” she said.
Four children also were taken from the home by Williamson County sheriff’s deputies because of ”unsanitary and unhealthy conditions” at the home in the Oakwood Estates subdivision, Sheriff Ricky Headley said.
Leddy said the dogs were kept in and above the garage of the home, and that air quality readings in the house showed unsafe conditions there.
A search warrant was used to enter the house and confiscate the dogs.
District Attorney General Ron Davis said Friday that two housekeepers who had worked at Siliski’s home came forward with complaints about unsanitary conditions. Leddy said she had received several complaints from neighbors about foul smells coming from the home during the past two years.
The case has generated a tremendous community response.
”I know they’re overrun” at the shelter, said Franklin resident Stacy Lewis, who stopped by with dog food, shampoo and a check yesterday afternoon. ”I told them I’d be willing to do anything.”
As soon as Lewis left, Sarah Graves and her daughter Hallie, 10, of Franklin walked in with dog food and puppy toys.
”It struck our hearts,” said Graves, who has a pet Maltese.
Animal Control officer Scott Franklin said the stream of donations began Saturday. When staff and volunteers showed up early Saturday morning, he said, sacks of dog food and cases of cans were piled up in front of the door.
”We were going to stay closed, but people were knocking on the windows and flashing checks.”
Franklin handed out a list of needs to person after person who stopped by to ask, ”What can I do?”
A dozen or so regular employees of the shelter worked over the weekend. Yesterday, 18 volunteers screened for special skills with animals or expertise with Maltese were at work.
Two of them, Donna and Elisia Tutt of the Grassland community, own two Maltese purchased from Siliski.
Elisia Tutt said they bought the dogs after her father, drummer Ron Tutt, fell for a dog owned by his boss, singer Neil Diamond, who referred the family to Hollybelle’s Maltese, Siliski’s business.
Diamond’s dogs were healthy, as were the two later purchased by the Tutts. But Elisia Tutt said the confiscated dogs she saw at the shelter obviously had not been getting the regular brushings and washings that a Maltese requires.
”This is definitely an indoor dog that needs a lot of care,” she said.
Laurie Hester, a Brentwood groomer, was hunkered down in a corridor brushing and clipping a trembling young female Maltese.
”I’m just trying to get them comfortable,” she said.
How to help
Cash, pet food, clean towels, shampoo, treats or other care items are still needed by the shelter at 138 Claude Yates Drive, Franklin, just north of Franklin High School.
Bone du Jour, 420 Cool Springs Blvd., Franklin, also is a drop-off point for donations.