Ian Doig hanging out with a polar bear. (Facebook photo)

Mission animal trainer’s dying wish was to keep legacy alive through farm

Gofundme page set up to support Ian Doig’s partner, Grace MacLeod

Ian Doig and his partner Grace Macleod. Photo taken from Gofundme page.

Long-time Missionite Ian Doig, a staple of the Vancouver film industry, lost his battle with cancer in the early-morning hours of July 22. But the battle to keep his farm alive, where he and his significant other train animals for the big screen, continues.

As his partner of 20 years, Grace MacLeod is struggling to keep The Animal Department in business amid the shrunk income of the COVID-19 pandemic, memorial fees, care of the farm animals and living expenses.

“With our film business functioning at a quarter of our usual summer capacity, and several of The Animal Department’s projects postponed until next year, Grace must cover farm expenses and look for new projects to book,” wrote Kelsey Evans, the organizer of the Gofundme page.

Doig was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Lymphoma at the beginning of June, according to the Gofundme page.

“It hit him hard and fast,” Evans said. “Sadly, the cancer outpaced the treatments. There [were] no longer options left for Ian to pursue, and remission [was] no longer possible.”

He entered Mission’s Christine Morrison Hospice for end-of-life care on July 9, accompanied by MacLeod, who stayed by his side until he passed. She was unable to leave the hospice’s COVID-19 quarantine, causing her to hire people to look after the farm animals and pay for food deliveries.

Doig’s final wish was for MacLeod to carry on the business.

“Ian asks for help, not for himself, but for the love of his life, Grace, to continue their shared legacy of The Animal Department, and for the gift of time to allow her to heal from this very sudden and heartbreaking turn of events.”

He began training animals for film in 1996, and the couple opened The Animal Department in 2003. Before he passed, Doig expressed his love for the work.

“Film making is a fascinating world. The novelty simply doesn’t wear off for me. The sets, locations, vehicles and the personalities of both cast and crew are unique and allow you to experience something that no other industry provides,” he said. “The state of the art technology is used like a homeowner uses a cordless drill. For the people that work in it day-to-day it often becomes so humdrum that they themselves become fascinated by… a chicken.”

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