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Personal Stories: Cathy Justus

"Deadly Remedy: Strange illnesses lead horse breeder to challenge fluoridation of Pagosa's water"

by Cathy Justus (With permission from the author and Pagosa Daily Post, of Article posted in Pagosa Daily Post on 5/23/05.)

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Editor's note: Horse breeder Cathy Justus recently led a successful campaign to stop the fluoridation of the Pagosa Springs water supply. Though many experts assert that water fluoridation is a harmless practice which is beneficial to a community's dental health, Cathy's experiences and research pointed to a different conclusion.

In the late 1970s Wayne and I bought property and moved to Pagosa Springs from a non-fluoridated area in southern California. We had been raising show-quality quarter horses for years and wanted to continue that endeavor in Pagosa. Being very aware of the effect of clean air and water, I felt that this was a perfect place to be, especially since Pagosa is at the foot of the Continental Divide and at the headwaters of the clean fresh water coming from the mountains.

Chronic colics and other serious ailments

We had never had problems with our horses being sick and crippled before. Their good health stopped when fluoridation started. The sickness started with chronic colics. We averaged one or two colics a month. It could be any of our horses at any time. The colics continued until the winter of 2003/04. (I will elaborate on that later.)

The occurrence of more and more seemingly unrelated ailments continued to manifest in all our horses. They ranged from the colics, to Cushings Disease (Equine Metabolic Syndrome), lethargy, neurological problems, chronic coughs, lameness, cancer, joints freezing up, soft tissue hardening, hard tissue forming on bones, deformed hoofs, legs becoming crooked after adulthood, thyroid problems, skin problems, reproductive problems, foals being born with crooked legs, mares aborting, deformed full-term foals, animals dying of mysterious illnesses, etc. Horse with fluoride poisoning

Our horse Bird was very thin for years despite eating all the time, which is a symptom of skeletal fluorosis. She died in October 2005.

Hoof shDeformed horse's hoof

Bird's hoof turned up, which happens in cows with severe fluoride poisoning.

We had taken one mare to California and bred her to an eight-time World Champion stallion. We brought her home for her gestation two weeks before her delivery date; we took her back to California to foal and to be re-bred. She had a beautiful filly and was re-bred. Two days before the filly was two months old (and before we picked them both up) the filly suddenly died. There were no outward symptoms of anything. An autopsy showed sores on every organ of her body. Organs and blood were sent for diagnosis of what killed her, but no cause was found. We were stunned and so was the vet. He had never seen anything like it.

The colt's head less than half normal length

A few years later we took a mare to a different breeding farm. She was bred, brought home during gestation and taken back a few weeks before delivery. One night I received a phone call from the ranch owner. She said my mare was in labor and couldn't physically deliver the foal. The attending vet said he had palpated her and couldn't distinguish a normal foal. He gave three options: first, cut the baby up inside of her; or second, do a caesarian section (both of which would require massive amounts of time and drugs). She would be crippled by the drugs and would never be able to conceive again. Or third, put her down, and save her from a lifetime of pain. We opted to put her down. An autopsy was done. The colt's head was less than half the normal length. He had no eyes or nostrils, no neck and no muscles at all...just skin over bones.

It wasn't until last year when I bought the book, The Fluoride Deception, by Christopher Bryson, that I made the tie to fluoride poisoning. It refers to the most expensive U.S. corporate episode in history relating to fluoride in the 1990s (where over $1.3 billion in costs and settlements were paid out). As late as July 2003, the Florida Supreme Court also reinstated a $4 million jury award to the family of a boy born without eyes. These unbelievably strange coincidences kept appearing related to the illnesses our animals were having as I did more studies.

We were losing horses and dogs to some mysterious thing. The problems were so diverse that no one could tell me what was happening to my animals. And no one knew enough about fluoride to point to it being the cause. Being raised to "be independent of the good or bad opinion of others" and to investigate to find my own conclusion, I started researching fluoride fifteen years ago.

I was raised from birth on holistic and alternative medicine and whole foods. I have always had an intense interest in this subject and had known for years that fluoride was poison. It is just slightly less poisonous than arsenic and more poisonous than lead. What’s worse... it’s cumulative.

I knew our water was fluoridated, and that it would be a major undertaking to get fluoridation stopped, so I tried other avenues to see if anything else could be the culprit of our animals’ many problems. Wayne and I drink distilled water, so it wasn't affecting us. To distill enough water for our animals was impossible - horses drink between ten to twelve gallons of water a day. That means they can accumulate far more fluoride in a smaller amount of time than people. As Dr. Krook said, “Horses are like the canaries in the mines. What shows up in them is manifesting in those people who drink fluoridated water too... at a faster pace in horses.

No changes in symptoms

We ordered hay a semi-load at a time to give us a year for testing (from as far away as LaJara, CO, to Bloomfield, NM, and sources in between) with no changes in symptoms. We did the same with grain. All this was done with no change in progression. The illnesses were getting worse. With each generation, the problems were building and presenting earlier.

I have always supplemented with only organic herbs and supplements (which I mix myself so the possibility of unknown additives in the supplements was not an issue). I changed sources of these individual ingredients, modified and deleted them. Still no change in the progression of symptoms.

Six vets were consulted (two of which were at CSU) starting in 2000 for my most precious mare Perfectlydun Bonanza (Baby Doe). She had many, many various symptoms; some of which were reproductive, continuous infections, thyroid problems, Cushings (Equine Metabolic Syndrome), lameness, bone deformity, breathing problems, etc. Even though I mentioned to all of these vets that I thought her problems were caused by the fluoride in the drinking water, all of them poo-poo’d me.

Baby Doe's foal born terribly thin.

Baby Doe and foal in better times.

After bringing her home from CSU in August of 2002 with no diagnosis or cure, I decided that God was telling me something. I was not using what I had been taught and been raised with: holistic healing. It certainly wouldn't hurt. I had tried everything else. We still had found no source for non-fluoridated water, but I felt that treating the fluoride-caused symptoms specifically would be a step forward. The perfect solution of course, was to stop the fluoridated water (what I felt was the source of the problem).

I’d been sending the Pagosa Area Water and Sewer District masses of literature on fluoride's toxicity for years, but my beliefs were only my theory. I had no concrete evidence. What I can prove is that sodium silicofluorides (a toxic byproduct of the phosphate and aluminum industries) was being put into our water. It comes from the industrial scrubbers and is called a "toxic soup" by the industries because it doesn't just contain fluoride, but also lead, arsenic, beryllium, silica and a host of other toxins. This stuff (despite what you have been told by the promoters of fluoride) has never ever had any safety studies done on it. It is considered a highly toxic waste by the EPA, and they must be contacted immediately if it gets spilled on the land, in rivers, lakes or oceans, or gets into our air. But when it is sold to water companies to put it into our drinking water, it suddenly becomes a product that is supposed to be good for us. Isn't that amazing?! Read The Fluoride Deception to find recently declassified, "top secret" government papers that tell exactly how this lie got started and promoted. This book is a page-turner.

Herbal help

After bringing Baby Doe home from CSU, I first had her thyroid checked. It was under-functioning. Next was a major homeopathic cleanse. After years of her having a constant infection (starting with simple ones, proceeding to e-coli, then to a staph infection), it was finally being overcome. Her outward appearance and energy picked up. I also used herbs for cleansing, photonic therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, message and more. I used these same treatments on all our horses. There seemed to be a little improvement, but not enough.

In the spring of 2003, we had this mare palpated again to see if she had improved. The vet said that she still had very little uterine tone and very odd eggs and thought we would never get her in foal again, but he wanted to see all the previous ultrasounds, biopsies and records for comparison. After reviewing what he had found and the previous tests, he said she had improved some and to keep up what I was doing and call him in a year.

Symptoms improve when horses stop drinking city water

The winter of 2003/04 was the first in over 10 that we had snow on the ground all winter. We noticed our outside 100-gallon heated water tank of city water only needed filling every 18 days instead of the usual every day and a half. The horses were eating snow instead of drinking the heated fluoridated water. They knew it was poison. The symptoms in all the horses started leaving. The improvement in Baby Doe was miraculous. She put on weight and started shedding the "Cushings Symptom" hair and shed all winter long. This was the first winter in over 10 years that we didn't have one single colic. The lack of them drinking the city water was the only thing that had changed.

One and a half weeks after all the snow was gone in the spring of 2004 and all the horses had to drink the city water again we had our first colic; 9 1/2 hours worth of cramping stomach and intestinal cramping. We were finally able to find a source of river water the middle of March 2004 and that was the last colic we have had.

On October 1st 2004 Baby Doe was euthanized. The assault of the fluoride on her neurological system was just more than she could handle for too many years. Her last 16 hours of life were horrible. She had no neurological function. A needle could be stuck into her anywhere in her body with no reaction. Of course this created many other physical things to happen in her body. Her breathing was extremely labored, her heart rate had gone up to over 120bpm to try to compensate for other malfunctions. It was awful. The attending vet said the symptoms were so varied that a diagnosis at the time couldn't be reached. An autopsy was suggested and I asked for her to be checked for fluoride poisoning and the comment I got was, "fluoride is supposed to be good for you." I replied, "You too have believed the lie spread for over 50 years." Baby Doe was autopsied for other things, all of which came back negative. There was no lab found that knew how to check for fluoride poisoning.

Source of ailments solved

I was distraught. I was determined to find the answer. Baby Doe was the fifth horse we had lost and we had lost four dogs too, all with mysterious ailments. During the last 15 years I have done an intense study of fluoride and what it can do to the body. I have read both sides of the issue and there is an overwhelming proof, over 60,000 worldwide independent studies, that fluoride was the culprit of our animals’ illnesses. I got on the phone and started calling from coast to coast to find a lab or a fluoride expert who could help me find the truth, one way or the other, of what was killing my animals. After over a week and a half I contacted Dr. Lennart Krook, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biomedical Sciences, at Cornell University in New York. He is a world authority on fluoride toxicity in animals. He has spent his career of over 50 years studying fluoride and has written 15 peer reviewed articles published in prestigious journals on this subject. I described the many varied symptoms we had seen through the years and he said they all could be related to fluoride poisoning but he would have to have a bone to check for the fluoride content to give a scientific analysis. I told him the mare had been buried for a week and a half and he said, "Dig her up." I told him I didn't think that I could emotionally do that. He said, "You have to." He said there were literally millions of people and animals being poisoned by fluoride and that any evidence of this was needed. The industries producing this toxic byproduct they put in our water have suppressed this info since fluoridation was started over 50 years ago.

The next morning Wayne got a backhoe, dug Baby Doe up, excised a foreleg and sent it to Cornell. About a month later a 17-page report came back with the final conclusion of "Chronic Fluoride Poisoning." Since then, Dr. Krook has requested color photos of the teeth of our remaining living horses. I told him I had saved baby teeth from all our horses and he requested them too for diagnosis. A 14-page report came back on them and its final conclusion on all our living horses was "Afflicted with chronic fluoride poisoning." Even a 33-month-old filly we bought out of state at 7-months-old and brought here was showing very distinct signs of chronic fluoride poisoning in her only two adult teeth. They were already chipping off and showing dental fluorosis.

Since then, another horse in the county that had thyroid problems, Equine Metabolic Syndrome plus other similar symptoms was put down, and a leg was taken and sent to Cornell. "Chronic fluoride poisoning" was the conclusion on him too. An interesting note is that he had been on the fluoridated Pagosa water for half as long as Baby Doe (11 years vs. 21 years) and had more residual fluoride in his bones. This shows how each individual is susceptible differently to accumulation amounts of fluoride. I think this proves that my cleansing specifically pointed towards the fluoride accumulation was working. Just not soon or fast enough to save Baby Doe from the long-term damage fluoride had caused to her nervous and reproductive systems.

Why the effects?

A question I have received many times over the years is why was it affecting our horses and not others. Most horse owners don’t keep their horses here 365 days a year like we have. Most horses were here for the summer then sent in the fall to winter somewhere else. They had a few months of accumulation and more months to cleanse the fluoride from their bodies. Fluoride will leach out slowly from the body if more is not added every day. Also a lot of the horses are given well water. Yes, there can be natural occurring fluoride in well water, which is bad too but this isn't always the case. And with fluoride working on a systemic level, the enzyme system, the DNA, the DNA repair system and the collagen system, the very core of life, it can create virtually any disease depending on the specific weakness of that individual.

As you can see, that is why we had such varied illness in our animals. That is the reason it is so hard to diagnose fluoride toxicity. How many people do you know that have had a bone taken and checked for fluoride accumulation after death? People and animals die and the reason for death is pointed at the symptom that was manifested by the fluoride rather than the cause which in Baby Doe's case was fluoride accumulation slowly killing her day by day and manifesting mainly in her reproductive and nervous system and thyroid. Dr. Krook said the organs and blood taken from Baby Doe would not have shown a positive amount of fluoride in the body because fluoride can change from hour to hour in soft tissue and blood. Since fluoride has its biggest attraction to calcium (our bones and teeth) and bone cell turnover is the slowest in the body, bone analysis is the only true way to test for fluoride buildup in the body.If anyone would like to talk to me further about this subject, please call (970) 264-4462, or email