Sophia Yin, DVM, 48, died on September 29, 2014 from self-inflicted “asphyxiation by hanging” at her home in Davis, California, reported Yolo County chief deputy coroner Gina M. Moya.
A 1993 graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis campus, Yin later returned to Davis to earn a master’s degree in animal science with an emphasis on animal behavior, and taught animal behavior courses for five years in the U.C. Davis science department.
An executive board member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, Yin rose to dog world stardom through a veterinary blog, AskDrYin.com!, and through the success of her three books, Perfect Puppy in 7 Days, How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, and Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Cats & Dogs.
Yin emphasized non-violent dog training methods, citing research done at the University of Pennsylvania showing that 41% of dogs respond aggressively when hit, kicked, or growled at, 38% respond aggressively when forced to release an item held in their mouths, and about 30% respond aggressively when forcibly rolled over or stared at. Conversely, only about 2% respond aggressively when trained to sit on command.
Yin was also outspokenly critical of shock collars and other coercive training devices.
While Yin opposed breed-specific legislation meant to curtail the frequency of pit bull attacks, she came into conflict with pit bull advocates including trainers Cesar Millan and Robert Cabral, who teach dominance-based training methods, and in Cabral’s case promote use of shock collars.