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THROUGH RUFF TIMES2024-07-11T13:21:13+00:00

About Us

Through Ruff Times is a program born out of love and grief.

Through our years of outreach and community building, we have seen the real possibility of having to make a choice between one’s own health and wellbeing and the ability to ‘keep’ their furry family members.

Although we can prepare, we cannot predict our circumstances and the impacts they have on our choices. To alleviate the intensity and stress around such choices we offer no-cost, pet support programming including Temporary Pet CarePet Food Bank, and HOWL (pet-related grief and loss support). We strive to keep people-pet families together by fostering a community where the love and companionship of pets can thrive, especially in the face of adversity.

Through Ruff Times is a community-centered service that values the role of animal companions in our lives. We understand that pets are integral members of the family and are always considered in the choices we need to make on a daily basis.

Through Ruff Times

We are grateful for any donation made to support us. Your generosity keeps our communities going. Thank you!

Luna, a beloved staff member at Breakaway

For Temporary Pet Care requests, please contact
(416) 537-9346 ext. 262
or e-mail:
[email protected] (Mella)
[email protected] (Melissa)
Please note that we are not a crisis service and may require 2 – 5 days to facilitate intake requests.

Is a pet-related grief & loss support program.

We honour the many phases of grief by providing supportive spaces for counselling, community and connection through our “Growing With Grief” kits, one-on-one and support groups.

You can send an email request to [email protected] (Melissa).

We support economically disadvantaged pet families and community partners across Toronto. We offer dog and cat food, in addition to other pet supplies based on availability.

You can send an email request to [email protected] (Sasha), or call/text (416) 873-9793.

For donations: Pet Food/Supplies to donate or Pet Services to offer; if you can spare any, we will put it all to good use. Please get in touch with us!

We are looking for volunteer Sitters and volunteer Transporters/Drivers.

A Sitter is someone who generously opens their home to a Through Ruff Times cat and/or dog. Sitters are an integral part of the TRT team.

We take great care in reviewing all applications to ensure that all pets in the program get paired with the right Sitter.

Transport volunteers help drive our pets and/or pet supplies from point A to B, and sometimes C.

We couldn’t spell Ruff without ‘u’!

If you would like to join our TRT Volunteer team, please complete and submit your application:



FAQ for Pet Intake

I live outside of Toronto, can you still look after my pet?2024-01-08T23:30:27+00:00

Unfortunately, we cannot. Our service area is Toronto, where our resources are based. In time we hope this answer will change as we are hearing from people who need support from all over southern Ontario.

When will my cat/dog return to me?2024-01-08T23:29:48+00:00

As soon as you say you’re ready! Once we hear that you and your loved one can be reunited, we will aim to get them to you as soon as possible. This will depend on our Sitter and Transporter’s schedule for pick up and your availability for drop off. We imagine you’ll be very excited to reunite, so we want this beautiful moment to happen as soon as it can.

How long can my pet stay in TRT’s care?2024-01-08T23:29:27+00:00

We have Sitters who can provide care for a minimum of 5 days to a maximum of 3 months.

Will I be able to see my cat/dog?2024-01-08T23:29:05+00:00

Your pet will be staying in the private home of a volunteer, so unfortunately visits are not possible. However, we can communicate with you as much as you’d like with any updates, photos, or day-to-day activities. If you have questions you would like to ask the Sitter about how your pet is doing, you can do so through your TRT contact.

Where will my dog/cat stay?2024-01-08T23:28:25+00:00

We have an amazing team of volunteer cat and dog Sitters who also want you and your pet to stay together. They are animal lovers who have gone through an application process, including references and a home visit. Your dog/cat will stay in a Ruff Sitter’s home until you are ready to be reunited.

Is there a chance I will lose my pet?2024-01-08T23:27:59+00:00

No, we want you and your pet to stay together. The reason we exist is to provide an option so that you do not lose your dog/cat.

How does it work if I need TRT to look after my dog or cat?2024-01-08T23:11:13+00:00

Service Users and Support Workers can reach out to coordinate an intake. We want to collect information about your pet’s routine and needs so that we can pair it with the most appropriate guesthouse.

FAQ for Volunteer Sitters

What if I want to go away?2024-01-09T19:28:09+00:00

Let us know in advance and we will make arrangements for care while you’re gone.

Will I be in touch with the dog/cat’s owner?2024-01-09T19:27:43+00:00

No, we want to protect your privacy, as well as the privacy of the person whose dog/cat you’re caring for. Any communication that may need to happen will be through a TRT contact. If you’re able to provide updates about how your houseguest is doing, we would love to pass them along.

What about dropping off and picking up the cat/dog?2024-01-09T19:27:16+00:00

A volunteer driver will drop off and pick up the animal, along with supplies.

When do I start and how often will I dog/cat sit?2024-01-09T19:26:47+00:00

After we go through the application process and you’re officially part of the Ruff team, you can let us know when you’re ready to cat/dog sit. If you want to hold off, that’s okay. There’s no “start-time” on our end – that’s up to you. When you’re ready to sit, you can decline cat/dog care requests as often as you like. We want the houseguest and timing to be most suitable for you, and much as we’ll try to match you with an appropriate fit, it’s ultimately your choice.

What if it just isn’t a good fit?2024-01-09T19:26:25+00:00

There will be an adjustment period going into a new home, and every animal will cope in different ways. It might be a difficult transition for some cats/dogs, while others will trot in like they own the place and be looking to cuddle ASAP. We will be checking in about how it’s going, and if there are any hurdles, we (including our trainers if needed) will be there for you. It can be a rewarding experience to learn and work on basic training. However, if you find yourself in a situation that isn’t working for you, we will find the cat or dog a different temporary home.

What if the dog or cat isn’t a good fit for our home?2024-01-09T19:25:33+00:00
What about vaccines, flea meds, etc?2024-01-09T19:25:49+00:00

We will get as much vetting information and paperwork about the animal before it comes into our care. Should a dog or cat need tick or flea meds, for example, we will ensure this happens. We’re especially mindful should there be any dog or cats in your home already – it’s important all animals are safe.

What if the dog or cat needs to go to the vet?2024-01-09T19:25:57+00:00

Any vet care needs will be covered by TRT through our partnered vet clinics. We can support you to get your house guest to our vet if you need a transporter. The only time we cannot cover a vet bill is if a Sitter is fully responsible for an animal’s illness or injury. For example, a dog is fed a Costco sized chocolate bar and gets ill.

How much will Sitting cost me?2024-01-09T19:24:32+00:00

Sitting with TRT shouldn’t cost you anything. The cat or dog you care for will come with supplies such as food, a bed, leash, cat litter, etc. If you want to spend money on a gourmet dog treat, you’re welcome to, but all basic needs will be provided by us.

Meds for Bear

Our team at Through Ruff Times has been raising money to buy medication for Bear, one of our client’s beloved dogs. Bear is a senior who needs allergy medication to stay comfortable.


We know you’ll look fabulous in a RUFF tank top, t-shirt or hoodie. And even more fabulous is, your contribution helps our dog pal, Bear, look and feel good, too.

Paw-sitive Support

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