Veterinary community mourns the loss of Dr. Sophia Yin

Sophia Yin, DVM, whose work in animal behavior inspired countless members of the veterinary community, passed away on Sept. 28 at the age of 48.

Yin's influence could be seen in the demand for her highly acclaimed books and videos, the overflowing rooms during her lectures at conferences, and the scores of veterinary professionals and students who turned to her for advice on handling animals using positive reinforcement. 

After earning her biochemistry and veterinary degrees from UC Davis, Yin started out in private practice until realizing that far too many animals were being euthanized because of behavioral problems. Her desire to help solve this problem took her back to the classroom, where she studied animal behavior and earned her master's degree in animal sciences. She then embarked on a prolific career spent improving knowledge and practices surrounding animal behavior through lecturing, writing, teaching, and consulting. 

Kate Crumley, DVM, AAHA president, shared her fond memories of Yin and her many contributions to the veterinary community.

"Dr. Yin is one of my heroes! Everyone who knew her will miss her presentations; her contributions were always excellent, funny, memorable, and practical. Students all know her NerdBook, too. She contributed a unique voice to our veterinary profession. Her approach to spreading understanding the daily use of behavioral science within veterinary hospitals helped untold numbers of animals. Sharing her techniques for low-stress handling provided many young (and a few old-dog) veterinarians access to handling skills that were never previously specifically outlined in any text or classroom. It is difficult to know she is gone and important that we honor her by continuing to forward her work," Crumley said.

In a statement from UC Davis, Melissa Bain, DVM, reflected on Yin's legacy.

“The veterinary and animal behavior communities lost a true champion for our pets with the passing of Dr. Sophia Yin,” said Bain. “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.”

A message featured on Yin's website reads: "It is with deep sadness and heartfelt sorrow that we announce the passing of Dr. Sophia Yin. As a beloved colleague in the field of animal behavior and veterinary medicine, she enriched many lives and improved amongst pets and their owners/guardians. She was a visionary, an internationally renowned author and lecturer, and made the world around her a better place to live. She is, and will continue to be, sorely missed."