Dr. Robin Downing: Human Animal Bond Award Recipient


The American Veterinary Medical Association is pleased to announce that Dr. Robin Downing, owner and medical director of the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management and Windsor Veterinary Clinic, has been named the 2020 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year for her outstanding work in protecting and promoting the human-animal bond. For many years, I’ve been proud to call Dr. Downing my friend.

Dr. Robin Downing has arguably been ahead of her time, speaking to both veterinary audiences and via the media to make a substantial impact to the general public.

with Dr. Downing

I’m privileged to say that I’ve shared a stage many times with Dr. Downing  – both to veterinary professionals and to the public. She is a passionate speaker, an evangelist for topics which are important to her. And her passion is evident. Using data as a backbone, she is able to create a narrative as few can to tell a story, to make a point, and often to change minds. As a result, her voice is one of the most influential in veterinary medicine.

I am on the Board of Directors of the Human Animal Bond Association, and although we weren’t on the Board at the same time, all current board members are well aware of her lasting legacy.

Clearly, she’s a pioneer in pain management, arguably regarded around the world for her expertise. Rather than relying on what she first learned, she continues to be open to new modalities. For example, when she first began extolling the virtues of physical therapy, she was considered outrageous by many, and today, of course, PT is as routine for pets as for people..

The Downing Center has been an approved training/internship site for canine rehabilitation for veterinarians, physical therapists, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students (since 2007) and acupuncture (since 2002). And while doing all of this, she simultaneously has done the same in the local Denver area community as well as finding ways to talk about rehab medicine on larger public stages.

Rehabilitative medicine is only one example. Where data and her beliefs intersect, Dr. Downing is more than willing to take strong positions – popular at the time or not.

Another example is declaw. I’ve paired up with Dr. Downing, again to both veterinary professionals (at the Fetch Conferences) and to the general public (via interviews on my various platforms including a Facebook live). She cuts to the chase, providing data, and also speaking about the ethics involved. “Let’s be honest. We can say declaw, but it’s an amputation. How many cats would themselves vote for this elective surgery?”

Let me offer two of many memories. At an American Animal Hospital Conference many years ago, I presented six talks on behavior on one day – and the conference called it “The Steve Dale Track.” Dr.Downing put her arm around me and said, “My dear friend, I’ve never had a track named for me. Clearly, you’ve exceeded me.” Well, here are the initials after Dr. Downing’s name – some I am unsure what they even mean. Robin Downing, DVM, MS, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CCRP.

No, I can not even come close to exceeding Dr. Downing.

Last year, at a conference just before we both walked on stage, a veterinarian walked up to Dr. Downing and she introduced herself, and added “You are my role model….I’ve always wanted to meet you. You changed the way I practice medicine.”