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Academic Health Center Oral History Project

RK Anderson.jpg In 1956, Robert K. Anderson came to the University of Minnesota with a joint appointment as a faculty member in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Public Health. He served as the Associate Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine from 1965 to 1971. With Ruth Foster, he invented the Gentle Leader® Headcollar in 1982. In his dual roles in veterinary medicine and public health, Anderson co-founded and served as director of CENSHARE, the Center to Study Human-Animal Relationships and Environments, one of the first centers to train and promote companion animal therapy. He retired in 1985. He died October 12, 2012.

Interview Abstract
In the first interview, Robert K. Anderson begins by describing his background, including his childhood, education, his service in the military, his early career, and his reasons for pursuing degrees in veterinary medicine and public health. He discusses his experiences on the faculty of the University of Colorado Medical School, in private practice, as a faculty member of the University of Minnesota, and as an epidemiology teacher for the Pan American Health Organization. He goes on to describe the following: One Health and comparative health; collaboration among the different health science units at the University; his research on brucellosis; his work with rabies for Veterinary Public Health in Denver; the College of Veterinary Medicine's (CVM) accreditation; the relationship among Veterinary Medicine, UMN central administration, and the Legislature; comparative funding for the CVM and the School of Public Health; and the CVM's relationship with industry and the USDA. Concerning education within the CVM, Anderson discusses his teaching, the growth of veterinary manpower, women in veterinary medicine, and the recruiting of minority students. He then explores the merging of the CVM with the health sciences and his research on radiation and bovine leukemia. Later in his career, Anderson studied psychology, which led to his interest in human-animal bonds and animal behavior. He considers this work as foundational to creating the Gentle Leader® , reforming his beliefs about dog training, and prompting the establishment of the American College of Veterinary Behaviors, the Delta Society, and the Center to Study Human Animal Relationships and Environments. Among the figures he discusses in his interview, Anderson is particularly attentive to the roles of William T.S. Thorp, Joseph Massey, and Sidney Ewing in his career.

In the second interview, Robert K. Anderson and David Garloff focus most of their discussion on the Center to Study Human-Animal Bonds and Environments (CENSHARE), including its establishment, research, interactions with other university centers, and programs doing work on human-animal bonds, funding, educational programs and courses, its products and programs, many of the people and volunteers involved over the years, and other topics. They also discuss Temple Grandin, the Gentle Leader®, NIH funding of veterinary medicine studies, the Delta Society, Helping Paws, Anderson's work as Chief of Veterinary Public Health Services for Denver, and disease transmission between animals and humans.

Biographical Sketch
Robert K. Anderson was born in Colorado in 1922. He received his D.V.M. from Colorado State University in 1944 and an M.P.H. from the University of Michigan in 1950. He served in the military from 1944 to 1946. He practiced veterinary medicine in 1944 and 1946, before and after serving in the military. He worked as Chief of Veterinary Public Health Services for the City of Denver from 1947 to 1956 and as an instructor at the University of Colorado Medical School from 1950 to 1956. In 1956, he came to the University of Minnesota with a joint appointment as a faculty member in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Public Health. He served as the Associate Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine from 1965 to 1971. With Ruth Foster, he invented the Gentle Leader® Headcollar in 1982. In his dual roles in Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, Anderson co-founded and served as director of CENSHARE, the Center to Study Human-Animal Relationships and Environments, one of the first centers to train and promote companion animal therapy. He retired in 1985. He served as a professor emeritus in both the School of Public Health and the College of Veterinary Medicine until his death on October 12, 2012.

Interview Transcript
RKAnderson.pdf