Above: Bird, who, by age five had lost some of her athleticism
and developed bony lumps on her knees.
Above: This image clearly shows a slice through of Bird’s deformed hoof.
By Elizabeth A McDonagh
For Cathy and Wayne Justus, it was an important day. Six years married, they were leaving California for a new life at Pagosa Springs, Colorado, 900 miles to the East. Pagosa Springs was an enviable location, a small community nestling at the foot of the San Juan mountain range with spectacular views that changed with the seasons. Cathy and Wayne were thrilled with the property they had found there. It was a small farm where they could continue to breed the quality Quarter Horses (1) for which they had already earned a reputation. For Wayne, the ever-changing scenery would provide inspiration for his fine paintings. He specialises in depicting the traditional life of the Western cowboy and incidents from the Civil War. (www.waynejustus.com.) To state it mildly, Wayne loves horses and is pretty good at painting them. Cathy, who first met him in junior high school, shares his enthusiasm and cares devotedly for their animals.
Early days at Pagosa Springs were not easy for the couple. There was no house on the farm and priority demanded that they first build a barn to house the livestock. Their pioneering work rewarded, they partitioned off the barn and shared it with the horses and dogs. Only later would they build their house and for Wayne, a large log cabin studio with a traditional stove at its heart.
By 1981 the Justuses felt the success of their horse enterprise was assured. They had bought a new mare, Lil Belle Bonanza (Belle for short). Belle was the daughter of the world-leading Quarter Horse stallion, Ricky Bonanza. When purchased, she was in foal and her previous foal Bonanza’s Q T Bar, a filly affectionately known as Bird, followed her everywhere. Bird was developing normally and showing athletic potential. In 1982, and again in 1983, Belle produced large foals, both fillies, Satin Bow Nanza (Satin) and Perfectlydun Bonanza. The latter, nicknamed Baby Doe, soon became a great favourite with Cathy. She showed exceptional promise, being large and athletic with perfect legs and long sloping pastern.
BOUTS OF COLIC
Wayne was away at times, trekking in the mountains or working as a cowboy to store up inspiration and ideas. When he was at home, he worked up to twelve hours a day on his paintings. Cathy took most of the responsibility for the house, the farm and the welfare of the horses. Everything seemed fine until 1985 when Belle gave birth to an unusually small filly. The foal survived only two months and at autopsy showed suppurating sores on its internal organs. No cause was found for this strange occurrence. Worryingly, Bird, by age five, had lost some of her athleticism and had developed bony lumps on her knees as well as a strange tendency to shake her head. All the horses were afflicted by recurring bouts of colic. It was not unusual for Cathy to have to deal with two to three colic cases in a month.
In 1986, Belle produced a son, Skip Classic Edition, nicknamed Mister. The colt was smaller than expected but seemed otherwise normal. Belle’s next foal was also a colt, Legendary Cowboy (Cowboy) born in 1987. At about the same time, a filly was born to Belle’s daughter, Bird. Subsequent attempts to breed with Bird failed and she never had another foal.
Satin, born to Belle in 1982, was a good athlete with perfect legs but she suffered from chronic colic. She foaled a small filly, Fancy Frills Bonanza (a.k.a. Frills) in 1987 but subsequently showed no heat-cycle. (In 1991, Satin was sold to a ranch in California after which her health problems improved and her new owners were pleased with her.) At about ten years of age, Frills’ legs started bowing and growing bony lumps.
SKIN, THYROID & REPRODUCTIVE PROBLEMS
By 1990 it was very clear that all was not well with the Justuses’ horses. Problems included colic and chronic coughs, lethargy, neurological problems, crooked legs, lameness, soft tissue hardening, hard lumps on bones, thyroid, skin, kidney and reproductive problems including chronic abscesses. It was in 1990 that real disaster struck. Belle was once again in foal and was taken to California for foaling and re-breeding. Cathy and Wayne received a call that the mare was in labour but could not deliver the foal. The vet explained that a Caesarean section would be both difficult and expensive. It would also necessitate the use of drugs which would leave Belle crippled with laminitis. Worse, the mare would never again be able to conceive. The alternative of putting Belle down seemed kinder and this was the sad decision made. On autopsy, the foal, a colt, was found to be grossly abnormal. His head was less than half the normal length, he had no neck, no eyes and no nostrils. He had no muscles at all.
Above: Bird’s deformed front legs
Meanwhile, Baby Doe had chronic colic and was lethargic, often falling asleep on her feet and falling to her knees. For a long time she showed no sign of coming into heat. Eventually, in 1997, she was pregnant. Cathy looked forward to her favourite producing a foal but when it happened there was cause for disappointment. Baby Doe’s colt was extremely immature and cryptorchid (that is he had only one testicle). He did survive and was named Winning Gold Bonanza, Win for short. Shortly after birth he developed lumps under his skin, he urinated a lot and, as he grew, his hips appeared swollen. He was unsteady on his feet and often stumbled because his joints gave way causing his legs to go out from under him. By the year 2000, Baby Doe was suffering from continuous infections, thyroid problems, misshapen bones and hooves, joint problems, lameness, constant profuse urination and difficulty breathing. She exhibited the classic symptoms including the hairiness of ‘Cushings Disease’, (Equine Metabolic Syndrome).
VETS COULD NOT OFFER EXPLANATION
Above: Profile of Bird’s deformed hoof
Cathy was in despair. She tried changing the horses’ feed but to no avail. None of her contacts could shed any enlightenment on the diverse health problems that were afflicting her horses. Vets had investigated Baby Doe’s symptoms but none could offer any explanation, let alone a diagnosis. A purchased filly, Impressive N. Elegant (Siena) had developed a chronic cough and, in Cathy’s words, “weird bumps all over her body” a few months after her arrival. The vets said she had “an immune dysfunction.” But when Cathy and Wayne took her away to horse-shows for a few days the bumps would disappear.
“The problem must be at home,” Cathy reasoned. She suspected the water supply, especially as she and Wayne always drank distilled water. It would have been prohibitively expensive to distil water for the horses. Cathy asked the vets whether it was possible that the fluoride added to municipal supplies since the mid-eighties could be responsible for the horses’ ills. She says, “They looked at me as if I was nuts.”
Baby Doe’s second foal, Skips Winning Bnanza (Skipper), was born in 1999. He had very crooked front legs, urinary problems and an attitude that was less than desirable. Cathy decided to try the homeopathic remedy Calc.Fluor because, as she told me, “To find the correct remedy in homeopathy you look for the distinct symptoms. Since like cures like in homeopathy and fluoride causes skeletal problems it was the most likely remedy for Skipper’s skeletal problems. It worked wonderfully.” This success seemed to confirm Cathy’s suspicions but there was still no proof and no professional believed as she did.
By the year 2000, Baby Doe was very sick. Attempts to get her in foal again were unsuccessful. Cathy and Wayne consulted six vets, including two from Colorado State University, where Baby Doe was taken for a time. The vets completely dismissed Cathy’s fluoride-poisoning theory, one insisting that “fluoride is good for you.” One vet diagnosed hormone problems including a very low T4 (thyroxin) count. E-coli and Staphylococcal infections of the uterus were confirmed. The mare continued to eat and drink but her symptoms worsened.
Realising that the vets had no answers, Cathy turned again to alternative medicine. She used homeopathy, herbs chosen for their cleansing properties, fresh Aloe Vera every day, acupuncture, acupressure, phototonic therapy and chiropractic. Most of the horses showed some improvement in their general wellbeing but the gelding who, at five, had accompanied the Justuses from California, Sargeant Spot Cash (Sarge), died. He had developed sarcomas, Cushings Disease, abscesses, joint deformities and breathing problems.
THE FLUORIDE DECEPTION
Snow remained on the ground throughout the winter of 2003/2004, something that had never happened in the previous ten years of comparative drought in Colorado. The horses’ water in the outside tank lasted eighteen days. It was usually replenished every other day. Clearly, the horses were choosing to eat snow rather than drink the city water. As the winter months went by, the horses’ health began to improve. For the first time in ten years there were no colics. All winter, Baby Doe shed the long hair that was a symptom of her ‘Cushing’s Disease.’ Her infections had resolved and she was again in foal. Two different vets confirmed this by ultrasound and palpation. Within two weeks of the snowmelt, colic was back. The Justuses, now certain that the city water had caused their problems, arranged for a supply of water from the San Juan River. After this, the colics ceased and, in some of the horses, other symptoms abated.
In 2004, Cathy read Christopher Bryson’s book, The Fluoride Deception. One passage in particular rang bells with her. Page 354 reported birth defects linked to an agricultural pesticide named Benlate, a compound of fluorine. Benlate had caused babies to be born without eyes, like Belle’s last foal.
Sadly, Baby Doe’s pregnancy was more than her sick body could handle. The mare was lame, lethargic, with thickenings on her joints, bones and spine. She had abscesses and oozing from lymph nodes. She “popped and cracked with every movement” Cathy told me “She got so she didn’t want to stand…she would lie down and as soon as her head touched the ground her eyes would roll back and roll around uncontrolled. Her legs would go like she was running…..and her whole body would shake. I timed her one day and she did this for eight minutes.” At the end Baby Doe’s breathing became very laboured and shallow, her heartbeat went up to 120 beats per minute and she had to be euthanized.
On autopsy, Baby Doe was found to have no foal inside her. (It is probable that she had re-absorbed her foal or aborted it.) Cathy and Wayne requested tests to determine the fluoride levels in the mare’s organs and other possible causes of her deterioration. Heart, lung, liver, kidney and blood samples were taken. Tests were done for various problems and infections including botulism and West Nile disease. All were negative. The vet reported that she could not find a laboratory that knew how to test for fluoride. Wayne buried Baby Doe and Cathy was distraught.
CHRONIC FLUORIDE POISONING
Determined that her fluoride theory should be checked out, Cathy made strenuous efforts, ‘phoning from coast to coast to find a laboratory with the necessary facilities. Little more than a week later her persistence was rewarded. Cathy was given the name of Professor Lennart Krook, a veterinarian at Cornell State University, said to be an expert on fluoride. Cathy rang him up and told him she thought her horses had been poisoned by fluoridated water. “Symptoms?” was his reply. Cathy related the problems of the past fifteen years and the sad death of Baby Doe.
Dr. Krook told her he would need a bone to test for fluoride before he could give a firm diagnosis. Cathy protested “But the mare has been buried for over a week.” “Dig her up.” “I don’t think I can do that emotionally.” said Cathy with tears in her eyes. “You have to. Millions of people and animals are being poisoned by fluoride and the more evidence we can get to prove this the better.” The next day Wayne took out a backhoe and dug up the mare. He excised a foreleg, which he sent to Dr. Krook. A month later, the Justuses received the veterinarian’s report. Baby Doe had suffered from Chronic Fluoride Poisoning. The owners of two other dead horses that had been drinking fluoridated city water from Pagosa Springs also sent leg bones to Dr Krook and they received similar diagnoses. Cathy’s remaining living horses were also confirmed as suffering from ‘Chronic Fluoride Poisoning’.
Cathy tells me that Dr Krook has spent fifty years of his life studying how fluoride affects animals. Their joint paper “Fluoride Poisoning of Horses From Artificially Fluoridated Drinking Water” has been peer reviewed and published in the Jan/March 2006 issue of Fluoride, the quarterly journal of the International Society for Fluoride Research.
A follow up paper reviewing allergic reactions of the Justuses horses and improvement since the cessation of water fluoridation is being peer reviewed with hopes of its inclusion in the next issue of Fluoride.
Dr Krook has told Cathy that her horses are the first horses to be diagnosed with fluoride poisoning from fluoridated water. This is because vets and doctors are not taught to recognise the very varied signs of fluoride toxicity. Dr Krook has explained to Cathy how fluoride works insidiously at the cellular level.
Chronic Fluoride Poisoning
It inhibits enzymes, the chemical catalysts which underpin all cellular chemistry, including the energy-production mechanisms of the mitochondria. It also alters the mineralisation of collagen, bringing about changes to the bones and teeth. It hardens the soft tissue of cartilage, tendons and ligaments causing joint pain which is often diagnosed as arthritis.
(PAWSD) voted unanimously to cease the fluoridation
On 25th January 2005, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) allowed a group of forty local residents, headed by Wayne and Cathy Justus, to voice their concerns about the fluoridation of the area’s water. Cathy told how she and Wayne had successfully raised Quarter Horses (2) before their move to Pagosa Springs. Their horses, she said, were from long lines of champions and among the best in the world. Her voice breaking at times, she recalled all the tribulations of the previous fifteen years and how, after many vets had been unable to account for the horses’ symptoms, Dr Krook had finally diagnosed Chronic Fluoride Poisoning caused by fluoridation of the local city water.
On March 29th 2005, the Board of PAWSD voted unanimously (1) to cease the fluoridation programme in Pagosa Springs. Cathy now gives talks to community groups about how fluoridation affected her horses and has been asked to address an anti-fluoridation conference in New York at the end of July.
In Cathy’s words, “People and animals die and the true cause and reason for that death is rarely known. Fluoridation is now in its sixtieth year. Chronic illnesses like cancer, Alzheimer’s, thyroid problems, birth defects, reproductive problems and arthritis have grown in leaps and bounds since fluoridation started. Could there be a connection? From my experience in the last fifteen years – without a doubt.”
1 Note from Cathy It was an official unanimous vote on the books although one of the board members said, before he voted to stop fluoridation, that he still thought it was a good thing. He still voted to cease fluoridation despite his feelings about it. He said he didn’t want to look like the odd man out.
2 The American Quarter Horse
The European settlers of Virginia and the Carolinas crossed their imported thoroughbred horses with the Mustang ponies of the indigenous Chicasaw Indians. The progeny were generally chestnut but sometimes of other solid colours. They were intelligent, docile, easily broken in, strong and athletic. They stood at about 14 to 16 hands. They were used in the first horse races in America and came to be known as ‘Quarter Horses’.
The breed, now one of the most popular horse breeds in the United States, was first recognised in 1941. Champion Quarter Horses have a short head, muscular neck, powerful shoulders, a short body and hind quarters and strong legs. The Quarter Horse is very versatile. It is strong, fast and capable of quick starts and tight turns. Besides racing, Quarter Horses are used for general riding, trekking, cattle work, rodeos and polo.
Krook and Justus published paper on Fluoride
A scientific paper titled Fluoride Poisoning of Horses from Artificially Fluoridated Drinking Water, by DR Lennart, P Krook and Cathy Justus was published in the January –March 2006 edition of Fluoride, the Journal of the International Society for Fluoride Research. [Research Report Fluoride 39(1)3-10] www.fluorideresearch.com
Krook and Justus state that the literature on fluorosis in cattle is extensive but “no carefully controlled studies have been conducted to determine the effect of excessive fluoride ingestion on horses.” Artificial water fluoridation was introduced in the Pagosa Springs district in 1985, at a concentration of 0.35 to 1.3 parts per million (ppm). This was the only source of fluoride available to the Justus horses. The effects of fluoride on the hooves, teeth and bones of the horses are illustrated in the Fluoride paper. Bone analyses for fluoride were carried out on three deceased horses. Parts per million of fluoride in their dry bones were 587.1, 757.1 and 936.1 respectively. These figures are compared with the 162.2 ppm in the dry bone of a very old horse who had never drunk fluoridated water. The Paper points out that the tolerance of the Justus horses for fluoride was only a fraction of the 60 ppm cited by the National Academy of Sciences and other authorities as the upper level of tolerance for a horse.
In his editorial column in the same issue of Fluoride, Professor Albert W Burgstahler, points to the complete lack of understanding of fluoride’s potential for harm exhibited by the veterinarians called to the sick horses. One reason for this is that extremely high so-called safe levels for fluoride in livestock were set in 1974 and have not been altered even though studies have clearly shown harm at as little as 1 ppm. Prior to 1974, the signs of fluoride poisoning were available in toxicology textbooks and reference manuals.
The similarities of the symptoms exhibited by the Justus horses, the multiplicity of those symptoms, the time taken for the problems to become evident, and the belief of the professionals that fluoride could not possibly be responsible should be reflected upon by everyone whose water supply is threatened by the menace of artificial fluoridation
Elizabeth A McDonagh studied nutrition from the age of twelve and her interest in the subject has continued unabated for over fifty years. A qualified teacher, she held teaching and Head of Department positions in secondary schools. She has also lectured at City of Manchester College of Higher Education and other colleges in the UK. Many years of study with the Open University led to the award of BSc(Hons). Since retirement, Elizabeth has given a number of speeches and has written articles, mainly on nutrition and fluoridation. She is an active member of National Pure Water Association (NPWA) which opposes the artificial fluoridation of water supplies.
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