Case Snapshot
Case ID: 1942
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Child or elder neglect
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Friday, Jan 23, 2004

County: Williamson

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 5 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Jennifer Siliski

Case Updates: 18 update(s) available

A reported 186 dogs, 30 puppies and 14 cats were taken from Bowman Road in Franklin, the home of Jennifer Siliski and her four children.

Siliski runs a business online that sells the animals. Siliski is a breeder of toy Maltese dogs and owner of Hollybelle's Maltese.

Dogs were found in conditions that led to the immediate seizure. Staff say that the dogs were being housed two or three to a kennel, with kennels stacked on top of each other in fairly small rooms. Living in very unsanitary conditions and very crowded living conditions. One dog died and at least three dogs were in imminent danger of dying.''


Case Updates

Former dog breeder Jennifer Siliski may have to serve more time behind bars.

Siliski, who was convicted of 11 counts of animal cruelty in 2004 and served 10 days in jail, will be re-sentenced.

According to the state's court of appeals, the judge was wrong to sentence her to consecutive terms of probation.

That means Siliski could serve additional time in jail, but also receive a shorter term of probation.
Source: WKM News - May 22, 2007
Update posted on Jun 1, 2007 - 1:19AM 
Siliski was arrested Monday following a grand jury indictment on five counts of food stamp fraud and four counts of aid for dependent children fraud.

Siliski is still on probation for animal cruelty. Her bond was set at $25,000.

Last September Siliski was sentenced to 10 days in jail, a year of supervised probation and eight years of unsupervised probation, 50 hours of community service and fined $27,500.

She had been convicted on 11 counts of animal cruelty for housing 231 animals in crowded, filthy conditions.
Source: News Channel 5 - July 26, 2005
Update posted on Jul 26, 2005 - 7:46PM 
A Williamson County judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which former Maltese dog breeder Jennifer Siliski was seeking $900,000 from the county.

Circuit Judge Russ Heldman ruled Tuesday that Siliski and Marge Largin, a dog owner who had joined Siliski in the lawsuit, failed to state a claim in which relief could be granted under state law. Together, Siliski and Largin were seeking $1.2 million from the county. The women claimed that Animal Control officials had refused to return animals, cages and other items that were confiscated during a raid of Siliski's home on Jan. 22, 2004.

Largin had become ill sometime before the raid, and Siliski was watching several of her dogs, according to their attorney, Dan Alexander.

County Attorney Lisa Carson said that any dogs Siliski was entitled to and any property that was hers has been returned.

Siliski was convicted last year on 11 counts of animal cruelty for keeping dogs in unsanitary conditions.

Authorities said she had more than 230 animals at her Franklin home during the night of the raid. All but five of the animals have been sold by the county, under an agreement Siliski signed.

Judge R.E. Lee Davies, who presided over Siliski's criminal proceedings, initially allowed Siliski to keep five dogs.

However, after Siliski violated terms of a bail agreement while pursuing appeals, Davies sent her to jail for 16 days and said she is no longer allowed to have any animals.
Source: The Tennesean - March 31, 2005
Update posted on Apr 1, 2005 - 8:50AM 
After 16 days in jail, Jennifer Siliski is once again a free woman. The Franklin dog breeder convicted on several counts of animal abuse walked out of the Williamson County jail Wednesday morning after a judge decided she had served her sentence.

Siliski was jailed after the court found out she had broken her bond agreement by breeding dogs. As a condition of her release, Judge Lee Davies said Siliski cannot have any animals at her home.

It's a ruling Siliski said she'll have no problem living with.

"I am very relieved that he put a stop to this, for at least the time being," Siliski said. "There certainly can't be any confusion as to the dogs, because we don't have any. So, that won't give rise to any stories. And yeah, I am very pleased."

Siliski is still waiting for the Appeals Court to hear her case. That could take up to two years.
Source: News Channel 5 - March 2, 2005
Update posted on Mar 3, 2005 - 2:39AM 
During a Feb 15 hearing, witnesses said Siliski had been breeding and selling dogs. Siliski took the stand and said one of her dogs had inadvertently become pregnant and delivered three puppies in December. She said she thought the dog had been spayed, and claimed a neighbor's dog must have impregnated hers by accident.

Siliski also said the puppies and five adult dogs were stolen from her home on Sunday.

Judge R.E. Lee Davies called the chance pregnancy and Siliski's stolen-dog story ''unbelievable.''

Siliski, 47, turned herself in at the Williamson County courthouse hours after Davies revoked the bail she had posted while pursuing an appeal of her conviction. She was later taken to the county jail, where she could end up staying until her appeal has concluded, according to Assistant District Attorney Braden Boucek.

Siliski's attorney, John Herbison, said she should be held for only 10 days, which is the sentence Davies gave her after the cruelty conviction last August for the conditions in which her Maltese dogs had been found. Herbison said he will ask for a review of yesterday's hearing.

Siliski testified that she lied to probation officers when they asked her if there were any puppies at her house.

Taz Farmer, a probation officer, said he visited Siliski's home Feb. 3 and found a mother dog nursing at least one puppy in a locked room. Siliski said Farmer did not see a real puppy but a stuffed toy dog that was being used to comfort the mother.

She said the real puppies were under her bed because she was trying to wean them.

''I find this absurd and totally unbelievable,'' Davies said. ''If they were under the bed, (Farmer) would have found them the first time he searched the house.''

Davies said Siliski was allowed to have only five dogs at her house, and all the dogs were to be spayed.

Carolyn Martin, a caregiver who had been taking care of Siliski's disabled daughter, testified that she had seen people taking dogs in and out of the house and saw evidence that Siliski was inseminating dogs.

Regina Case, another caregiver, said she was at the hospital with the daughter on Feb. 3 when Siliski called her and asked her to go home and remove the puppies because probation officers were coming.
Source: The Tennesean - Feb 16, 2005
Update posted on Feb 20, 2005 - 11:18AM 
Convicted animal abuser Jennifer Siliski is now on her way back to jail after a judge determined that she had violated the terms of her bond by breeding dogs. Siliski took the stand in her own defense on Tuesday morning and denied that she had resumed dog breeding or had more than five dogs in her home. However, prosecutors told the judge that home healthcare workers and Siliski's probation officer both saw puppies inside her home. Also, the healthcare workers say that Siliski admitted that she has been selling puppies and dog semen on the internet.
Source: WKRN - Feb 15, 2005
Update posted on Feb 15, 2005 - 12:59PM 
The Williamson County DA filed a motion on Thursday to revoke Siliski's bond. According to a court order, evidence found at her Franklin home will prove she has violated her bond by continuing to own and breed animals.

Siliski was found guilty on nine counts of animal cruelty in 2004. Judge Lee Davies allowed her to keep six of her dogs, but she was supposed to have them spayed or neutered.

She was never to breed dogs again, but the DA's office says apparently she did not listen.
Source: WSMV - Feb 4, 2005
Update posted on Feb 5, 2005 - 10:57PM 
Jennifer Siliski, found guilty of animal cruelty in August, now says she was coerced into signing an agreement to turn over her dogs to the county. She has also asked for a new trial.

In a separate but related issue brought to Judge R.E. Lee Davies' attention in a hearing yesterday, Siliski's new attorney said the judge didn't have jurisdiction to authorize the agreement in the first place.

Her lawyer John Herbison said that because Siliski's former attorney had filed a notice of appeal, every order Davies made after Sept. 23 should be ''null and void.''

Herbison said Davies should have forced the county to auction off the dogs, as he had ordered in August.

Davies has called for a hearing to determine if Siliski - who was declared indigent and appointed representation from the public defender's office after her trial - can afford to pay for her own legal counsel.

She is being sued by the group of attorneys who represented her during trial for failing to pay more than $100,000 in legal fees. Those lawyers claim she fraudulently deeded her house to her ex-husband, Alan Siliski, to avoid having a lien placed against it.

''I'm really confused,'' said Larry Drolsum, the public defender assigned to represent Siliski. Davies told Drolsum to remain Siliski's attorney until the hearing, scheduled for Dec. 21.

Siliski filed two motions herself. The first was to withdraw the agreement she had made with the county. She claims that attorney Kenneth Sanney, who represented her during trial, and Davies scared her into signing the document. She also said she was heavily medicated when she signed it.

''That's absurd,'' Davies said. ''I am shocked that she would allege something like this. You signed virtually the same agreement one other time before, and I rejected it because the county hadn't weighed in on waiving restitution.''

Davies said Siliski will no longer be represented by Sanney, or the law firm he works for - Rebecca Byrd & Associates - because of the allegation. He rejected Siliski's motion to withdraw the agreement.

Herbison said he will prepare a brief explaining why Davies didn't have jurisdiction to authorize the agreement. The DA's office will counter with a brief of its own. Davies said he will rule on whether he had jurisdiction after Sept. 23.

''In criminal cases, after a final judgment and notice of appeal is filed, the jurisdiction goes to the appellate court,'' Ron Davis said. ''The notice for appeal was filed before the motion for new trial. The judgment Davies made on Sept. 23 was a preliminary judgment. He reserved final judgment to come with other sentencing issues.''

On Sept. 13, Davies sentenced Siliski to 10 days in jail, one year of supervised probation and 50 hours of community service, followed by eight years of unsupervised probation. He had ordered that all of Siliski's animals, about 260 dogs and cats, be sold at public auction. The money was to go to the county, which had cared for the animals since Siliski's arrest in January.

However, Davies later called off the auction after Siliski signed an agreement to turn the dogs over to the county and the county agreed to waive any right to collect restitution from her. That agreement would allow many of the people acting as caretakers of the dogs to buy them from the county.

Sanney had filed the motion for new trial, but will no longer represent Siliski. Drolsum told Davies he couldn't take up that motion because he didn't represent her at the original trial. Herbison said he was hired only to challenge the jurisdictional issue.

''She's creating her own problems,'' Davies said. ''She'll have to deal with them. She can hire someone else.''
Source: The Tennessean - Nov 13, 2004
Update posted on Nov 14, 2004 - 2:21AM 
A Franklin judge sentenced dog breeder Jennifer Siliski Monday to 10 days in jail for animal abuse. In addition, Siliski was placed on supervised probation for one year, and must perform 50 hours of community service.

The judge said it would be cruel to Siliski's children to take their pets away so he is allowing one dog per child to stay in Siliski's care. The remaining dogs, more than two hundred that were taken from her home, are now being forfeited to an auction.

The proceeds from the auction will go toward paying off the money the county's spent caring for the dogs during Siliski's trial. A final restituion hearing will be held after that auction.

Jennifer Siliski is not allowed to trade or sell dogs ever again during the remainder of her lifetime.
Source: News Channel 2 - Sept 13, 2004
Update posted on Sep 14, 2004 - 2:31AM 
Williamson County Sheriff's deputies on Tuesday executed a civil judgment against convicted animal abuser Jennifer Siliski in a case brought by a New York woman who alleges she was sold a "defective" dog.

Siliski was convicted on Aug. 27 on 11 of 30 counts of animal cruelty stemming from a Jan. 22 raid on her home in Franklin's Oakwood Estates subdivision. On Tuesday, sheriff's deputies accompanied a white moving van to the house where a computer, an air hockey game, some animal cages and other items were removed to settle the more than $4,000 judgment awarded to Maureen McSweeney in 2002, a New Yorker who bought the dog in question.

That decision was made in 2002 when a judge ruled in McSweeney's favor. According to prosecuting attorney Gerard Stranch, a lawyer at the Branstetter, Kilgore, Stranch and Jennings firm in Nashville, the only question his client had was how to collect the more than $4,000 owed to her for vet bills.

Her sentencing hearing will be Sept. 13, with Circuit Judge R.E. Lee Davies presiding. The judge asked both the defense and prosecution to submit a brief or pleading on the disposition of the animals, any restitution the state may seek and ideas about incarceration, probation or alternative sentencing.
Source: Review Appeal - Sept 8, 2004
Update posted on Sep 8, 2004 - 1:08PM 
The court jury returned a verdict of guilty on 11 counts for dog breeder Jennifer Siliski.

Siliski, 47, faced 30 counts of animal cruelty - 14 counts for neglect, 14 counts for torture and two counts for abandonment. The charges on which she was found guilty each carry a fine of $2,500. The maximum jail time to which Siliski could be sentenced is 11 months, 29 days on each count.

The case against the dog breeder stemmed from a Jan. 22, 2004, raid in which 241 animals were confiscated from her 2235 Bowman Road home kennel.

That sentencing hearing will be Sept. 13, with Davies presiding. The judge asked both the defense and prosecution to submit a brief or pleading on the disposition of the animals, any restitution the state may seek and ideas about incarceration, probation or alternative sentencing.
Source: reviewappeal.com
Update posted on Aug 28, 2004 - 5:31PM 
Wednesday (Aug 25, 2004), testimony continued in the trial of a Franklin dog breeder charged with multiple counts of animal abuse and cruelty.

One of Jennifer Siliski's ex-husbands took the stand Wednesday.

Alan Siliski assisted the defendant in caring for the 230 dogs and cats at her house. He testified she took "excellent" care of the animals.

He described the kennel condition as a temporary holding for the dogs. Alan Siliski said his ex-wife had no life outside of her business.

The defendant sold and shipped Maltese dogs ordered over the internet. Clients were charged $700 to $1,600 per dog. The trial will resume Thursday. The defense was expected to call on as many as 4 or 5 more witnesses.
Source: News Channel 5 - Aug 25, 2004
Update posted on Aug 27, 2004 - 6:16AM 
Judge agrees Siliski must pay more than $4,000 plus interest to N.Y. woman

While dog breeder Jennifer Siliski continues to battle 30 counts of animal cruelty in criminal court, a judge has ordered a decision against the woman in a civil suit that determined Siliski sold a client a "defective" dog.

The judge found that Siliski had until May 24 to obtain new counsel and to file a brief as to why she should not pay the judgment from New York. If nothing was filed, the judge ordered there would be a final hearing June 7, 2004.

That deadline came and went with no brief filed by Siliski or her representation.

The total, which was $4019.96 on Oct. 24, 2002, is subject to the New York tax rate at 7.5 percent interest fees.
Update posted on Jun 18, 2004 - 5:14AM 
May 25, 2004 -
The majority of the motions filed by dog breeder Jennifer Siliski's attorney were dismissed in a motion hearing yesterday in Williamson County Circuit Court.

Siliski will face 30 counts of animal cruelty at a trial to be held in Williamson County beginning on Aug. 18.
Update posted on May 25, 2004 - 4:01PM 
Timeline of Siliski Case

In case there is any doubt about how the case of Siliski has unfolded, here's a moment-by-moment look in the case that came to light at the beginning of 2004:

Jan. 22: Franklin Police raid Siliski's home and find more than 200 Maltese dogs and puppies and 14 cats in cages stacked three-high.

Jan. 23: DCS removes Siliski's four children, ages 10, 11, 13 and 15, and places them in foster care.

Jan. 24: Judge Lonnie Hoover finds that Siliski's children were in fact living in "deplorable conditions" and orders them to continue in state's custody.

Jan. 28: Investigation reveals that Siliski has used various names, both from real contacts and apparently made-up aliases. These names appear on her home and business registration forms, Web sites and previous court judgments. Siliski's car, with the license plate MALTEZE, is registered in her 10-year-old daughter's name.

Jan. 31: Task force forms to aid in investigation.

Feb. 1: The many volunteers at the WCAC facility gather for a training session. Overworked employees get a free massage.

Feb. 3: Youngest Siliski child is rushed to hospital after a fall at her foster home. The girl was born severely disabled and needs constant attention. Byrd argues that the foster family does not have the correct bed for the girl.

Feb. 4: The WCAC reports more than $45,000 in dog care costs.

Feb. 6: Siliski's vet, Paul Vaden, admits he has performed a C-section every week for the last eight years on Siliski dogs.

Feb. 22: WCAC gets ultrasound machine and finds nearly 40 dogs to be pregnant.

Feb. 26: Consumer Affairs reports that complaints against Siliski have reached $100,000.

March 1: Custody trial continued with Judge Jane Franks to preside. Judges Lonnie Hoover and Al Nations recused themselves.

March 9: DCS and Siliski's attorneys come to an agreement and children are returned home. That afternoon, however, Criminal Investigator John Brown serves a warrant for Siliski's arrest on the criminal counts, hours after the grand jury had indicted her.

March 12: The Siliski dogs, and some 20 new pups, are moved to the old Battle Ground Academy complex. It's reported the WCAC volunteers and donors have saved the county more than $50,000.

March 19: WCAC volunteers and staff squabble over whether or not the dogs should be fostered out to citizens. The dogs are the responsibility of the county and are still considered state's evidence, even though they technically belong to Siliski.

March 21: PETA requests Siliski be psychologically evaluated and barred from any personal or professional contact with animals.

March 23: Judge Russ Heldman sets May 24 as Siliski discussion date.

April 19: Final day to apply for fostering a Maltese. Two hundred twelve people applied.

April 20: Byrd files a motion for a change in venue for her client's trial.
Update posted on May 23, 2004 - 9:00AM 
The animal cruelty case involving dog breeder Jennifer Siliski is one of the first on the docket for the official opening day of Williamson County's new judicial center.

But Siliski, who allegedly tortured the same animals she sold out of her home kennel, has yet another issue she must address at the courthouse tomorrow - a civil suit judgment from 2002 that determined Siliski sold a client a defective dog.

The client, who has never actually met Siliski, purchased a Maltese dog from the breeder in 2001. However, when the client picked the dog up from the airport, it was in immediate need of medical attention. In that case, a New York court found Siliski guilty of shipping a faulty product and ordered a payment of nearly $4,000.

The judge who heard the case that Monday has set May 24, 2004 as the day Siliski must file a brief setting out why she believes the New York court has no jurisdiction. Also, she must tell the judge if she will continue to represent herself or hire a lawyer, Stranch said. If she cannot afford to hire a lawyer and desire counsel, one will be appointed for her.

Siliski does already have an attorney in the criminal case being heard tomorrow. Rebecca Byrd, who actually owns a Siliski-bred Maltese, has represented Siliski since the Jan. 22 raid that resulted in the removal of some 230 animals. Since that time, Byrd has seen her client through the custody battle over Siliski's four children as well as the ongoing criminal and fraud allegations against the breeder.

The saga has spanned the past four months, but has reached a much larger community than just Franklin. The Williamson County Review Appeal has received hundreds of letters, e-mails and phone calls from as far away as Brazil requesting more information on the case. Thirteen different state and federal agencies have become involved in the investigation, and entire Web sites have been dedicated to just this subject. Williamson County Animal Control (WCAC), the facility that took in the dogs and has cared for them since January, has been flooded with volunteers, money, blankets, food and dog toys, and more than 200 people applied to foster the dogs from this and surrounding counties.

Siliski herself has received a great deal of help, as well. Some nearby neighbors helped clean the "deplorable condition" of her home, scrubbing floors reportedly stained by feces and urine. Her four children were cared for by foster parents until March 9, and the Department of Children's Services (DCS) has worked with her since then to ensure the children were receiving the proper care. And, Siliski's fourth ex-husband, Alan Siliski, posted the required 10 percent of her bond once she was booked at the jail for the criminal charges.

With all the media attention and public awareness about the allegations, Siliski's attorney worries that a suitable jury will not be found.

"We're asking to move to another county within the district in hopes that my client will have more of a chance for a fair and impartial trial," Byrd said. "It's about finding jurors who haven't heard so much about the case."

That's just one of the motions Byrd has filed.

"She has filed around 10 motions," Assistant District Attorney Braden Boucek said. "The state filed a few routine motions, one opposing one of her motions for being untimely and one motion asking for an expedited trial."

The assistant DA also said Byrd has subpoenaed 51 different people for tomorrow morning's motion hearing. Byrd's office did not return phone calls for comment.

Siliski's indictment lists 30 counts of animal cruelty, two counts each for 15 canine and feline victims. All counts are Class A misdemeanors. There are two different theories for each victim - "Jennifer Siliski did fail unreasonably to provide food, water, care and shelter," and "unlawfully did torture or maim a Maltese dog."

Boucek said the maximum amount of time Siliski can receive is 11 months and 29 days for each of the 15 victims. That's a possibility of 15 years.

The woman is also charged with one other Class A misdemeanor for possession of a controlled substance (Ketamine hydrochloride) a count that could add another 11 months and 29 days. Police discovered the substance in Siliski's home during the raid.

"I look forward to lodging one of the first appearances in the new courthouse," Boucek said. "I'm sure it will be a packed house."
Update posted on May 23, 2004 - 8:59AM 
Attorneys for dog breeder Jennifer Siliski have filed a request to have the trial relocated to another county in the 21st Judicial District due to the high level of media attention.

"There's been so much media attention regarding the charges," said Rebecca Byrd, Siliski's lawyer. "We're asking to move to another county within the district in hopes that my client will have more of a chance for a fair and impartial trial. It's about finding jurors who haven't heard so much about the case."

But Braden Boucek, assistant district attorney, said he's confident the DA's office has the ability to find a fair jury, and will address that point at a May 24 review.

Siliski is charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty for the "deplorable conditions" of her home kennel where she raised and bred Maltese dogs. The house, located at 2235 Bowman Road in Franklin, was raided on Jan. 22 and had 230 animals inside. Officials at the scene said there were feces, IV bags, urine and trash throughout the house.

Since that time, all parties involved - Siliski, the Williamson County Animal Control facility, the D.A.'s office, Siliski's four ex-husbands, her four children and even the dogs - have faced a slew of media attention.

If the motion is granted and the venue changes, it will be to one of the three other counties in the 21st Judicial District - Perry, Hickman or Lewis.

"Perry County is the furthest away," Byrd said. "I haven't been down there to check it out yet, but it'll be up to the judge to decide."

(Reported in Williamson County Review Appeal (Franklin, TN), April 20, 2004)
Update posted on Apr 20, 2004 - 5:27PM 
Dog breeder Jennifer Siliski was charged with animal cruelty in connection with some of the 230 animals confiscated in a Jan. 22 raid on her home.

She was charged with 30 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of possession without a prescription of Ketamine, a rapidly acting anesthetic with both animal and human uses.

Charged and indicted were 10 to 15 of the worst cases out of the possible 200 to 400 possible indictments These were in the worst condition, and the abuse seemed to be most severe.

A grand jury indicted Siliski on March 8, 2004 and she agreed to surrender herself March 9, 2004 and the Arraignment is set for March 22, 2004.

She posted $10,000 bail and was at home that night

Siliski could face up to about 31 years in jail if convicted of all counts. About 230 Maltese dogs and other purebred dogs and cats, which are still Siliski's property and considered evidence, remain housed at Williamson County Animal Control. In addition, the agency is housing more animals that have been born since the January confiscations from Siliski's house, which investigators said had filthy conditions with animal feces and neglected dogs.

County officials said they plan to move the confiscated pets to People's Hall on the old Battle Ground Academy campus. The empty building, built in 1922 and renovated in 1972, is in good shape and offers plenty of water, heat, ventilation and space, said Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson.

Now that Siliski has been indicted, court officials can release the animals to foster homes.
Update posted on Mar 11, 2004 - 8:26PM 

References

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