Shortly after I hit the send button on the very first Ann-o-gram
, I heard back from a really passionate and
She wanted to tell me about a small-but-mighty non-profit organization, Through Ruff Times
, which provides temporary homes to much-loved pets when their owners are going through, well, rough times.
As it turns out, the reader was
I loved learning all about this powerful, grassroots initiative -- and I'm pretty sure you will, too.
When times get "ruff"
In order to understand the impact Through Ruff Times is having on people’s lives, you have to imagine what it would be like to be asked to choose between taking good care of yourself and taking good care of a much-loved pet. It would be pretty awful
to be asked to make that choice -- so awful, in fact, that you might decide to put your pet's well-being ahead of your own.
This is where Through Ruff Times fits in, arranging temporary care for someone's pet so that they can focus on taking the best possible care of themselves: “We work to reduce barriers for people who experience poverty, homelessness, mental health and substance use challenges, violent living conditions and/or any other hurdles. We offer
options so that people do not need to make a choice between accessing supports or losing their animal companions."
While Through Ruff Times has only been up and running for a couple of months in Toronto, it’s already having a major impact, both in the local community and beyond. “Word has spread fast and we've had requests for pet intakes from all over Ontario,” note the organization's co-founders Mella Brown and Melissa Pisante
. “Unfortunately we've had way more requests to care for pets than we are able to accommodate, which reminds us how necessary a service like this is. Imagine needing surgery, or trying to leave an abusive situation, and possibly losing your pet during this stressful time?”
response from the community has been incredible: “We have heard appreciation and relief that something like Through Ruff Times exists from the communities we aim to support. And we're receiving love and support from rescue [organizations] like Save Our Scruff
who are asked weekly if they can temporarily care for someone's beloved dog. The animal rescue community has been very
generous with sharing supplies and resources, and we've had no problem building an amazing team of volunteer cat and dog sitters.”
And as for their hopes and dreams for Through Ruff Times moving forward, Mella and Melissa are pretty clear about what they need and what they hope to provide.
“This is where we'll tell you we are a tiny volunteer nonprofit organization and rely on community support and donations to continue
to exist and keep growing. We hope to receive funding and have our own space to temporarily board pets. We currently operate like fostering (minus the adopting out part) and we simply don't have the capacity to take in every request (over 100 [such requests] in less than four months). We envision a Through Ruff Times centre that will serve many purposes: cats and dogs will be kept out of the Humane Society, their humans will be able to take care of life stuff knowing they'll be
reunited [with their pets]; and [we'll have] a big, bright, beautiful space for people to spend time in and connect with each others and with animals.”
It’s an inspiring vision and a powerful testament to the far-reaching impact two caring people can have on their tiny little corner of the world.
To learn more about the important work Through Ruff Times is doing and/or to support their efforts in some way, you can connect with the
organization via its website
PS Want to shine a spotlight on someone you know who is taking action to make the world a little less awful? I’d love to hear from you