Thursday, March 18, 2010

Virya Paramita

The Paramitas are the steps practiced by bodhisattvas (Buddhas-to-be) in advance stages to their path to enlightenment. The 4th step, or Paramita, is the Virya Paramita, which means the energy in pursuit of the good, effort, diligence, zeal or, by extension, courage…

These are the supposed principles that Jean Elledege apparently thought she exemplified. So much so that she named her horse business Virya Paramita Horses.

While her website no longer exists, this one little piece of marketing still remains on the web:

Virya Paramita Horses -Snohomish, WA, USA 98290
Our 20 years of breeding the finest bloodlines has resulted in excellence in conformation, temperament, and athletic ability. Fancy color is just the icing on the cake!
Keywords: palomino buckskin leopard cremello saddlebred appaloosa arab
URL: http://viryaparamitahorses.com
Last modified: 07/23/2007

Jean Elledge pursued no good, extended only efforts to hide her criminal acts, was diligent only in producing more and more horses and had no zeal in anything she did and certainly was the most cowardly woman I’ve met in the horse world. Virya translates closely to Virtue…and Jean Elledge had none.

When she was arrested she tried to blame her “help” for the condition of the horses. She initially pled “Not Guilty” to the counts against her. She was arrested and released in both Snohomish & King counties and drug out the process from late February until September when she finally pled Guilty to three charges in King County.

I attended her sentencing hearing on October 17th, 2008.

I can’t tell the story any better than my friend Monica Bretherton has on her Horsebytes Blog so I do encourage you to read it. I’ve tried many times to recount that day and each time I am so emotionally drained that I have to close the page and walk away. To this day I do not know if it is more for the horses that we saw who suffered so tremendously and fought so hard to recover, for the horses she slowly & mercilessly killed or for the day to day challenges I have personally faced in caring for a horse she almost ruined…a horse of my heart, my dream horse who had to be rescued from a nightmare...but my heart hurts still & it still brings me to tears.

She stood in that courtroom and said she was practically relieved to see the police coming down her driveway…that it was “over”…Oh, Ms Elledge…it was FAR from over!! It’s still not over! Every day I drive to pick up pelleted hay that Coconut’s sensitive system needs because you ravaged my poor horse’s body by FAILING to do the basic care that could have prevented this I am reminded why it has become necessary…no, it’s not over.

About the time of the sentencing I was home in tears of frustration after spending hundreds of dollars on vet visits and remedies trying to undo the damage she caused because a wormer was too much trouble. When I walked in the court that day I didn’t predict what my reaction would be. I cried in the courtroom when Dr. Hannah, Jaime & Bonnie shared their expert observations & personal experiences with this case.

I was dumfounded when her lawyer called her the “kindest women” she’d met & her family testified that she was the glue that kept the family going and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Really? She had to step over dead horse bodies to conduct her daily business. Perhaps she believed the lies she told her boarders and helpers but then why was she “relieved” that it was finally over? She knew! She knew what she was doing was wrong. She hired na├»ve young ladies with no experience to come out and help with the horses in exchange for ride time and promptly sent them on their way when they started to catch on. She lied to me about vaccinations and worming but she knew exactly what was supposed to have happened and rattled off a list and supposed dates of administration but could produce nothing that I could give my new barn owner.

In court she talked about this fantasy she had of breeding these quality blood-lined horses on a small scale but good enough to bring in a price that would allow her to sell just a few a year and live off of it. She obviously didn’t fulfill her fantasy.

Instead she bred and bred and somehow lost sight of the fact that these horses had no market. They were unbroken, unproven in the show or sale world and yet she just kept making more. Icing on WHAT cake?

Just to hit home just how twisted this woman is, let’s talk about Seas The Golden Day, her prized Cremello Saddlebred Stallion. The one she bred to anything that walked and didn’t stop from breeding boarding horses in pasture accidents. She reported that she paid several thousand dollars for him as a young stud and went on to make him the center of her breeding business. I seriously doubt that horse ever had a saddle, let alone a rider, on his back. He had no credentials to speak of; no show history, no training, nothing that would make HIS get any more valuable than any other registered, but unused, horse. He certainly did not live a pampered existence yet he was her dream horse, her thrower of color, and the standard by which she intended to create all of her designer color/breeds. She left him on the pasture in Monroe, she starved him just like the rest of those poor horses who lost their lives out there…only she claims he didn’t die from starvation ( he would have) ... she says she "euthanized him in an unspecified fashion". He had no gunshot wound or injuries so I suspect this was a lie and he just died. (thank you Jaime for the edit)

But her methods of euthanasia are documented to be less than traditional or kind. One Appaloosa/TB colt in particular is documented as so weak from starvation that he went down in that creek I wrote about back in the early stages of the story. He was unable to stand & someone called her to the pasture. My understanding is that she confessed that she sat by him, covered him in blankets, built a fire and tried to comfort him. When it was apparent he wasn’t going to make it, she claims to have euthanized him. She didn’t call a vet out to inject him. She didn’t take one well placed gunshot to his head…no…. she bludgeoned him. His skull was crushed by either a sledgehammer or large rock. THAT’s how she ended the noble life that she created.

Come sentencing day I was emotionally drained. Thankfully I had the bodies and spirits of the SAFE supporters there to pack in around me and make me feel somewhat protected. It didn’t make listening to her attorney, her family or her very own words any less harsh to hear. I cried, I shook my head; I knew in my heart that this woman didn’t fully accept what she had done...as wrong. She only appeared to acknowledge that she’d made some mistakes and even referred to herself as arrogant when it came to allowing vets and other professionals out to see her horses. That doesn’t make up for the fact that she killed horses…12 in my count….

On the pasture in Monroe: Two dead horses in December/January, the first contact by Animal Control that prompted a corrective plan and a revisit where two more dead horses were found. In that case two boarders horses were in such bad condition that they had to be euthanasized within 24 hours of the seizure off of the Monroe Property…and the two young fillies, Ella & Lilly who died after the seizure due to complications that most likely were a result of the lack of care Ms Elledge provided them or their Dams.

Meanwhile…

At home in Carnation: Four dead horses carcasses were discovered, one too decomposed to get a definitive answer as to the cause of death, three, however, died from starvation according to Dr. Hannah

I’d like to think that most people reading my blog would be emotionally and reasonably horrified to have even one dead horse on your property. To learn that you were responsible for it’s death would make any one of us question our worth as a horse owner, but Jean Elledge had no such gauge in her emotional structure. Nothing was her fault. I believe she pled guilty because her attorney advised her that the case against her was too great to beat in a trial…. and perhaps they hoped the judge would go easier on her.

As it was, she was sentenced to nine months in custody. The judge said that he’d give her a little credit for the guilty plea, saving valuable taxpayer resources in avoiding a trial. He also told her that she could not own animals for 5 years after her release but went on to tell her that people treat their cars better than she treated those horses and that in a society we are responsible for even our weakest members…in this case it was the horses and she let them down miserably.

It was after the hearing in the hallway outside where the SAFE group stopped to gather ourselves emotionally. Jean Elledge, her family and attorney came through the door and to my shock she walked right up to Monica and myself and looked us straight in the eyes and asked if we were the ones who took care of HER horses. Clearly she didn’t recognize me in that setting. I was so horrified that I couldn’t speak and I pictured myself stretching out my arms toward her and closing my hands around her neck. Thankfully Monica had it together enough to tell her that “Yes, we are among them.” Jean Elledge then thanked us for taking such good care of HER babies…yes…. her BABIES!!!! At this point her attorney came up and put an arm around her and directed her away from us. In the shock of that I didn’t notice that her sister came up behind her and was now standing in front of us, reaching out and touching Monica’s arm…it felt like slow motion…and I hardly knew what to expect, except that it couldn’t be good…and she said “Jean loved those horses like her own children!” “Really?!?!?” I was screaming in my head….”She killed TWELVE horses!”…But the words never really formed on my lips…they just echoed in my head like the hard percussive blow of a base drum. I can only imagine the look on my face…but thankfully Monica was the ever quick-witted one and was kind enough to tell this woman that she hoped all worked out for them.

Jean was to report to Jail November 6th to start her sentence. Meanwhile she decided to plead guilty to the charges in Snohomish County and was sentenced to twelve months to begin immediately following her King County sentence, not concurrent! So she faced a total of 21 months.

I thought it gave us time…to do what, I’m still not sure…but I certainly was not prepared to learn recently that she had gotten out of jail early. I’m going to assume on good behavior or work release. It makes me all kinds of crazy that she’s not still there in Jail. I wanted a year for every horse…or even every chargeable count…but one year per county was all she was ever going to get. She served about 14 months by my calculations. The system doesn’t seem fair if you ask me…

So now she’s out there…supposedly not having contact with animals but there’s a gnawing at my heart that tells me she’s up to something…she thinks her troubles are over and she’s planning for that day when she can play mad scientist again and start the process over…a little birdie tells me she put some plans into motion in the days just prior o reporting for jail that would indicate she does not intend to give up horses completely. I’ve heard that King County Animal Control will automatically ask for a life-time ban from horses (or animals) when the time comes but since we don’t know exactly where she is there’s no reason she can’t be tucked away somewhere private and already collecting more. It’s occurred to me that with the number of free horses out there that one could land in her yard quite easily. Perhaps a photo of her is in order. We can’t have people naively giving her any animal that requires care. I don’t trust her and no one else should either.

By the way, thanks to some comments over on my Facebook link I remembered that Ol' Ms Elledge is listed on the data base of pet abusers. This is probably a lesser known tool in list of things we should probably be checking when we sell or re-home a horse or any animal. You can check out Jean Elledge's profile there.

This may not be my most upbeat or popular blog post but it’s one that’s been festering for a while. I’ve been trying to wrap up the Coconut Chronicles but it occurred to me there is no end to it…as long as she lives there’s going to be a story to tell…if you met her, you’d understand. But for now, this is the wrap-up of “this” part of her story. Let’s hope the end is a long, LONG ways away.

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