Dr. Sophia Yin: A Champion for Animals

I felt shock and profound sadness upon learning that Dr. Sophia Yin passed away on the 29th of September. Hearing about the loss of a professional colleague is not all that unusual, and Dr. Yin was not a school classmate or personal friend. So, why did I experience such strong emotions in response to her death? The answer is simple. Dr. Sophia Yin was a true icon in the veterinary profession.

Photo credit: sophiayin.com

As a specialist in the American College of Animal Behaviorists, Dr. Yin made it her mission to enlighten as many people as possible about humane ways to bring out the best in an animal’s behavior. Watch any of her many You Tube videos and you will see a master at work. Always with patience, calmness, and a smile on her face, watch Dr. Yin as she positively changes her subject’s behavior using training techniques that are fully accessible to her viewers.

Dr. Yin was a leader at the forefront of the revolution against the deeply entrenched dominance-based approach to dog training. Thankfully, nowadays, the majority of dog trainers utilize the positive reinforcement methods taught by Dr. Yin and others.

Dr. Yin was a prolific speaker and author. One of her most popular books, Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats: Techniques for Developing Patients Who Love Their Visits, has instructed thousands, if not millions, of veterinary staff members the art of reducing their patients’ fear and anxiety in the hospital setting. What a gift!

Something I appreciated about Dr. Yin was her approachability. None of my emails or phone calls to her ever went unanswered. She was always very much present and helpful with me. When I invited her to speak about low stress handling techniques in my veterinary community, she readily scheduled a time and date.

Whether you realize it or not, through your veterinarian, dog trainer, groomer, or pet sitter your life with your pet has likely been positively impacted in some way by this wonderful veterinarian with a huge and generous heart.

Rest in peace, Dr. Sophia. You have made the world a better place.

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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10 Comments on “Dr. Sophia Yin: A Champion for Animals

  1. Thank you Dr. Nancy for the beautiful obituary to Dr. Sophia Yin: the dogs will all miss her compassionate methods! We did not know about her, but will now study her work.

    Dr. Nancy, we have learned so much about dogs from you. There is not a week that goes by that we do not study your work! Thank you for all you do! You are loved and appreciated by all of us.

  2. A beautiful tribute to a very special lady. I still find it difficult that she is no longer with us. As a dog trainer, I’ve turned to her books, videos, even the first model of the “Manners Minder” (Sorry, If feel I may have gotten that name wrong). She is missed.

    Thank you for writing and sharing this tribute, Dr. Kay.

    With a sad heart,
    Connie O’Hara

  3. Such sad news this morning. Thank you for sharing it, nonetheless. I have attended Dr. Yin’s seminars and worked with her products and procedures. What a loss for all of us in the community that centers the welfare of dogs. Rest in peace, Dr. Yin.

  4. How sad that the world has lost such a kind and compassionate woman. May her family find some solace in the fact, that she helped countless animals, and thereby left this world a better place. I wish her friends and family both strength and peace during this very sorrowful time.

  5. This is a terrific article on Dr. Yin’s death; many of the comments that follow are very interesting. Because I am at my vet’s so much, I am allowed to go to areas where clients are usually not allowed. I have found my vet crying because she had to euthanize a beloved pet. The very best vets are vets because they love animals; and their tender hearts suffer more than most of us can imagine.


    Depression and Suicide In Animal Care Professions: What Can We Do?
    by jessica dolce on October 1, 2014
    Dr. Sophia Yin died on Monday at just 48 years old. It is a great loss, felt deeply by everyone in the animal care world. I didn’t know her personally, but her work truly helped me be a better advocate for my dog. Dr. Yin was a force for good for our pets. Yesterday it was revealed that she died of suicide.
    She is not the only veterinarian to commit suicide this year.

  6. Thank you for your eulogy for Dr. Yin. She will be deeply missed by so many. As you noted, her contributions in educating how to deal with dogs humanely and positively were so appreciated by the public who she helped, and by the many dog trainers who use “positive methods”. As a trainer who works with clients and their dogs that have behavioral issues, she was always a source to go to for the wealth of insight that she shared with others. I am truly saddened by her loss.

  7. Sophia was such a kind and generous person and Jeff and I are both shocked and deeply saddened by her death.

    We were fortunate to live closeby, and when we needed a behaviorist for our fear-aggressive adopted dog a few years ago, we turned to her. We completed a handful of one-on-one consults with her and then attended many of her group classes too.

    When I was looking for a behaviorist to work with us and our dog, I wanted someone who would come in without preconceived ideas about him, someone who wouldn’t repond with “Oh, he just needs something to do” sorts of answers. Sophia was the perfect choice. As she worked with us, she recognized that our dog had sort of nonstop wariness and worriness and spent all of his time anxious about what might happen. She recommended using an anti-depressant and it made a huge positive difference for our dog.

    She would answer random emails from total strangers and even responded to columns and stories in newspapers where someone wrote about the problems they were having with a dog.

    What broke my heart though is that I didn’t know about the significant emotional pain she was in. I think it is hard to have such a caring heart. The planet and the species need more people like her and you Dr. Kay.

  8. I was completely stunned and incredibly saddened to hear this news. I only hope that on some level she knew how much she touched us all and how grateful we have all been for her kindness, compassion, and effort. She will be missed.