Response to a skeptic

So, a dog owner I’ve corresponded with sent me this link and asked me to respond:

I’d encourage you to read the post. I like Dr. Chris Bern because he is a skeptic. I consider myself a skeptic myself. I spent 25 years in journalism and that’s pretty much our stance with everything. If you want me to believe something, you have to show me yourself. Unlike others who might dismiss a cure for distemper out of hand, Dr. Bern actually took the time to read our report about the effectiveness of NDV. So, that’s how skeptics should work. But I think he missed some key points.

Let me just say right off, that I absolutely respect any vet who does not want to use an unpublished treatment. And if you are not interested in hearing about how Dr. Alson Sears found a cure for canine distemper, I will respect that and leave you alone. However, other vets who were probably tired of routinely euthanizing distemper dogs gave the treatments a try and wrote back to tell me how it went.

I compiled those numbers into that report. At no point do I call this a scientific study. However, I did refer to the 2003 study by Dr. Kim Hee-Young in Korea. But at no point do I claim to be a scientist, a doctor or a veterinarian. At no point do I claim to have proven there is a cure for canine distemper. As I say in the report, “We do not claim here that we have proven this cure, but we consider these treatments to be at least encouraging and worth further investigation.”

I am not a scientist, but I am a former journalist, and I can compile information and tell you the facts I have found. In 1997, my dog Galen was dying of distemper. My sister took him to see Dr. Alson Sears, who treated him. Galen came back to us two days later happy and healthy. Now, I know that one incident is not enough to prove a cure. I know I don’t have the test reports and other specifics of the case to further verify that one case. At the time, I was not planning on campaigning for this cause. But as far as I was concerned, my dog’s life had been saved.

I put Galen’s story up on my website,, but was determined to not get further involved than that. People found out about Dr. Sears. Some were able to get to his clinic and some wrote back to me to say their dog had been saved from distemper too. “That’s nice,” I thought to myself.

The turning point came in 2008, after Dr. Sears had been retired for a couple of years. A woman in Romania contacted me and asked if her vet could use the protocols from Dr. Sears, which I had posted to the website. “Sure,” I said. I forgot all about that until 4 months later when she contacted me through Facebook to say her vet had used the serum to save at least 5 dogs at that point.

That was when the light bulb went on. I may not be a scientist, but I remember enough from college biology class to know that scientific results need to be repeatable by other scientists. A veterinarian from the other side of the world had taken Dr. Sears’ protocol off my website, followed them and had the same results.

This was significant to me. But at the time I was just a copy editor for a newspaper in Upstate New York. Science writers who I contacted wouldn’t look at it because it was unpublished. Vet schools wouldn’t give me the time of day. But as an individual person, I still had the power of speech and I could harness the then-emerging power of social media. I pushed it out into the world everywhere I could. I asked dog owners to record and videotape their dogs before and after treatment and tell me their stories. I asked vets to send me updates on how the treatments went for them.  This all became the reports, videos and stories that fill the Kind Hearts In Action website.

At least 23 veterinarians around the world reported to me that they could repeat Dr. Sears’ work.

And yes, none of this is scientific. This is all anecdotal. The whole point of all of this was to get the attention of those in the scientific community and get someone to realize this would be worth a study. I believe that if this could be put to the test — especially in treating the early stages of distemper — it would show that the lives of dogs could be saved.

At the very least, I believe the veterinary community should end the routine euthanization of distemper dogs. Yes, in many cases, the neurologic problems are too severe to overcome and euthanization is the kindest thing you can do. But even if you don’t believe NDV is saving these dogs, I can still point to hundreds of examples of distemper dogs where it was definitely worth the effort to try. That is the point of our We Love #DistemperDogs campaign.  Slideshow.

I have a book on canine distemper from the 1920s. That book tells the story of veterinarians who at the time were desperate to defeat canine distemper. They were either trying to find a cure or find a vaccine.

They eventually found a vaccine. So they forgot about finding a cure. My assumption is that with the vaccine, the veterinarians at the time considered a cure unnecessary because the vaccine would control the disease. But distemper is very different from the small pox vaccine. Small pox could be eliminated from the world because it only affected one population, humans. Distemper can exist in other canids and it keeps spreading. New cases, year after year. I get emails from all over the world telling me how devastating a problem it is.

So, as important the vaccine is — yes, always get your dog vaccinated — it has only partially defeated distemper. An effective treatment is needed.

However, somehow the narrative changed from when the vaccine was developed in 1950. Rather than, “a cure is not needed.” It became “a cure for canine distemper is impossible.”

Yes, it is a bold claim that a cure for canine distemper is possible. Yes, it is a bold claim that there is some unknown process caused by NDV that can defeat the distemper virus. But you just sitting there saying it’s bold doesn’t prove that it is not there. You won’t know if it is there unless you check it out for yourself. That’s what a true skeptic would do.

Alas, I cannot prove it to you. I am not a scientist. I am, after all, still just an ordinary guy running websites and answering email. I do not have the money, resources, connections and experience to run a proper study on this. But with all due respect, I know this:

Veterinarians around the world have patients that are sick and will die.

Somebody should do should do something about it.

Ed Bond


P.S. As to the implication that this is snake oil and I am just a P.T. Barnum looking to con people, I have to say that as a newspaper reporter, I once chased a con artist out of town. Con artists usually keep changing their story. They want the money as soon as possible. They don’t stick around very long to answer questions.

Kind Hearts In Action is a 501c3 non-profit. We have been active with this status since 2009. You can look it up. We never require any money for the help we offer. Donations are gratefully accepted, but I would never twist anyone’s arm for money. I would never ask for money from someone who is desperate and in the middle of crisis. Frankly, if we get enough to keep the website and social media going, I’m happy. If people share their stories and tell others about what is happening here, all the better.

I’ve been doing this for about 7 years now. I do this for no pay, and every morning when I get to my computer there are more emails from people asking for help. But it is because I also get emails from people thanking me for helping to save their dogs that I keep doing this. If there had been no successes, I would not have done this for very long.

Check out our other stories here:

Distemper dogs treated with NDV