Behind the scenes of the exotic pet trade, the impact of fireworks on animals, Canada Goose protests, and an activist charged for rescuing a piglet.

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Vancouver animal rights activist David Isbister shares his knowledge on industries that exploit animals


If you partake in any animal rights activism in Vancouver, you’ve heard of David Isbister. He is best known for his witty commentary into the megaphone at animal rights demonstrations, and vast historical knowledge of animal-exploiting facilities such as the Vancouver Aquarium, and the Greater Vancouver Zoo, which has enabled him to win civil debates with animal-abuse supporters (patrons and staff) in attendance at such facilities.

If you haven’t had the comedic pleasure of hearing David speak at an animal rights demonstration, you may have read some of his educational, insightful posts on Facebook which have inspired and transformed some of the hardest hearts and minds for the better. On top of all this, David’s generosity is unsurpassed. As a vegan chef, he cooks up elaborate meals for attendees of animal rights demos, and hosts regular events called “DOGWAB”  (Day of Giving Within Arbitrary Borders) for the residents of the downtown east side (essentially a free “pop up shop” of personal care items, clothing and healthy vegan food for those in need.)

When David isn’t doing activism for people or animals, he can be found at his place of business making delicious vegan food in an East Vancouver industrial kitchen that’s shared by many other budding local entrepreneurs and food truck cooks. His humour is evident in the names of his meat/cheese-resembling products; bacUN, chickUN, porkornot nawsage, IMA V Franks, wack forest ham, peperNOni, not rods, no harm roast, cheddah, no-harmesano (parmesan without the harm – get it?).

Thanks to his compassionate activist mother, David was born and raised as a vegetarian, which comes as a shock to those who flock to his Industrial Avenue shop where he sells some of Vancouver’s most sought-after vegan “meats” that so closely replicate the flavours of foods he has never even tasted. 21 years ago, David opened his eyes to the cruelty that existed beyond the meat industry and became fully vegan, learned to cook incredible food, and uses this as a means to advocate a compassionate lifestyle through his business Plant Base Food and Natural Products. His products can also be found in many local restaurants and grocery stores around Vancouver.

David joins us in this episode for a discussion about his experience as a former insider in the exotic pet trade, in which for seven years he tried to make life better for exploited animals. We also have a discussion on zoos, aquariums and the dog breeding industry.

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Toronto activist, Jenny McQueen criminally charged for breaking and entering a pig farm, stealing (rescuing) a piglet


Toronto-based animal rights activist Jenny McQueen had an intimidating 6:00am visit from 10 police officers at her home in early October. They roughly grabbed Jenny, put her in handcuffs, read a search warrant, and searched the house for an hour as she waited, in the police car. She was charged with break-and-enter as well as mischief to property worth more than $5,000 for her open rescue of 2 piglets from a pig breeding factory north of London Ontario which supplies grocery giant IGA. Jenny’s intent was to document what she saw as the cruel treatment of animals held in small, confined spaces and bred for meat. 

Adare Pork is a 2,600-sow operation known in the trade as a “pig production system” which specializes in impregnating sows and briefly raising the offspring — usually until they are about 21 days old. Jenny said the scene was like walking into hell, her lungs felt the impact of amonia in the air, mother pigs were crammed in cages, unable to turn around, and male pigs were also confined in small cages, where they have their semen extracted. Pregnant pigs were suffering from prolapses – internal organs coming out of their bodies. We will have a feature interview with jenny in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more on this.

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The effect of fireworks on animals


Last week’s Halloween celebrations contributed to the usual tragedies associated with events involving fireworks in many cities. My social media page was flooded with stories of the impact on peoples’ animal companions; dogs and cats hiding under beds, one dog needing to be tranquilized, another having multiple seizures for hours, causing extreme exhaustion and stress, and a horse who had to be put down from internal organ issues caused by the trauma. Every time we have a fireworks event in Vancouver I hear multiple stories of animals running away from home, never to return or hit by cars where they ran, scared, into the streets. Two years ago we interviewed a woman whose dog was at the off-leash dog park one afternoon, and ran onto the skytrain tracks after fireworks spooked her. She was killed by the train. Frightened animals running in the streets at night is a potential danger to everyone involved at the scene, and shelter workers often have to risk their safety attending calls to capture these animals from dangerous roads. There are many online petitions circling around to ban fireworks, nit just for the sake of our companion animals but for wildlife, the environment (air pollution, and the impact of the discarded fireworks casings left in oceans or on streets to be washed into the ocean, where fish may eat them), people with PTSD and seniors who may be frightened and traumatized by the loud sounds. My neighborhood sounded like a war zone on Halloween night. Between fireworks explosions I could hear many animals crying and at one point, a woman calling out the name of her lost animal companion – who knows if they will return home.  PETA President Ingrid Newkirk wrote a letter to Vancouver’s Mayor Robertson pleading with him and city council members to consider a fireworks ban. Sign the petition here.



Protests at the grand opening of Vancouver’s Canada Goose store at Pacific Centre Mall


All photos by Carson Ow

Animal rights activists representing the abolitionist grassroots organization Direct Action Everywhere and PETA protested the grand opening of Vancouver’s Canada Goose winter apparel shop twice on Friday. About 10 activists were at the doors of the store for the 10am opening time, but staff recognized one of the group’s organizers and threatened to call the police if they entered the store, so the activists pulled folded-up protest signs out of their jackets and demonstrated for about 5 minutes in front of the shop, flanked by multiple security personnel. An educational speak-out was given by one of the activists, educating the shoppers about the gruesome production of the jackets which are made of coyote fur from wild-trapped coyotes and goose feathers obtained from tortured, enslaved geese. At 6pm that same day, over 50 activists returned for a massive demonstration outside the store, creating a huge circle in the wing of the mall which houses many fur shops. Police officers and multiple security guards were present, and allowed the activists to remain in the mall for about 30 minutes as they gave speak-outs and chanted. Prior to entering the mall Friday evening, they held a massive demonstration outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, using a giant movie screen to show video footage of Coyotes in leg-hold traps and geese having their feathers plucked out, as activists holding light boards saying “:Canada Goose Kills” stood in front of the screen. Outreach volunteers spoke with people passing by about the production of the coats.

If you know anyone who purchased a Canada Goose jacket and regrets the decision upon learning about the cruelty, please send us an email at


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