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Remembering Pet Champion Dr. Sophia Yin

September 30, 2014

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Dr. Sophia Yin

Sept. 30, 2014

UC Davis lost beloved alum Dr. Sophia Yin yesterday. Yin received her DVM from the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1993, and her M.S. in Animal Science with an emphasis on animal behavior in 2001. She went on to teach about positive reinforcement training and humane handling of veterinary patients, and helped many pets through the techniques that she promoted far and wide. 

“The veterinary and animal behavior communities lost a true champion for our pets with the passing of Dr. Sophia Yin,” said Dr. Melissa Bain, a veterinary behaviorist at the UC Davis veterinary hospital. “She was a strong advocate for positive reinforcement training, but perhaps her greatest contribution was her visionary and tireless promotion of low-stress handling in veterinary clinics. Her death has left a huge void in the animal professional world.”

Yin took her message of positive training and humane handling to an international audience of pet owners through her videos, books, newspaper columns and features, website, online courses and talks around the country. Her website explains Yin’s journey:

Ever since she was a child, Sophia wanted to be a veterinarian, and in 1993, her dream came true. But once out in private practice, she quickly realized that more pets were euthanized due to behavior problems than medical ones. She went back to school to study animal behavior, and earned her Master’s in Animal Science in 2001 from UC Davis where she studied vocal communication in dogs and worked on behavior modification in horses, giraffes, ostriches, and chickens. During this time she was also the award-winning pet columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Upon receiving her degree focused on animal behavior, Dr. Yin served for five years as a lecturer in the UC Davis Animal Science Department. Through these and an eclectic collection of other animal behavior experiences, she came to realize the true secret to successful behavior modification.

Bain interacted with Yin professionally through the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior to promote the concept of animal behavior to veterinarians and veterinary professionals. 

“How I'd like to remember her is seeing her around town, walking her beloved dog, Jonesy, continually using the positive reinforcement techniques that she promoted,” Bain added. “Jonesy would light up when she was working with him, which is how people would when they listened to her promoting force-free methods of training.”

Yin will be dearly missed by many two and four-legged friends. Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.