Volunteer Views

We asked some of our volunteers some questions about their daily duties and their experience at the Sanctuary.


Name: Moira Sammut

Age: 29

How did you start volunteering at the Island Sanctuary? 

I used to say I wish to start, but never did until I made a new year’s resolution – the only one I kept! The first time I went to the sanctuary I just showed up one morning with a friend of mine and the volunteer who answered the door had to refuse us since they were too under-staffed to show us and teach us how things are done. So then I sent a message to ask if they needed my help next time and if there will be someone to train me. Obviously they did need help and after 4 or 5 visits I could work with the dogs on my own, since they got to know me and I learned what had to be done.

How long have you been volunteering? 

8 years

What are your duties at the Sanctuary? 

Since I go in the afternoon, it’s time for the biscuits shift where we check on the dogs in each pen to make sure they have a bowl of dry food, a fresh bucket of water, a cosy bed and a clean pen. We play with the dogs, brush them, give out treats and collect the morning feeding dishes. This usually takes 10-15 minutes in each pen and we have around 40 pens. Then we do the lasts shift where we give out any medication needed (we have a chart which is constantly updated with every dog’s need) and prepare meals for any older dogs, dogs who need to gain weight, dogs who didn’t eat etc.

How many hours do you dedicate per week?

5 hours per week, sometimes more.

Do you have a particular duty at the Sanctuary? 

Just the biscuits and lasts shifts at the moment.

Is there a memorable experience that you’ll never forget about a particular dog

I found a stray dog once, he was in a terrible state and very scared. I named him Harry and kept him in a safe place until he could be admitted at the sanctuary but in the meantime a bond had started to grow between us… He gained weight and it turned out he had a beautiful character. He was starting to prefer me than the other volunteers as I used to take him out and treat him specially. When he found a home approximately a year later, it broke my heart with both happiness and sadness as I knew I would not keep seeing him. But I was happy he found a home and that at last he would belong to a family. A similar story happened recently with another dog named Zana.

If you have to send a one message in a sentence to the Maltese population what would it be? 

Please treat your pets as your family. They suffer a lot, some in silence and others by crying and breaking their heart and this is not a nice thing to witness as if we’re the ones who abandoned them!


Name:  Sylvia Zammit

Age: 62

How did you start volunteering at the Island Sanctuary?

I tried to admit a stray dog – but there was no room for him! Plenty of room for me though – so I kept the dog and the sanctuary kept me!

How long have you been volunteering?

24 years in total – 5 of them I was working full time there.

What are your duties at the Sanctuary?

At present I have no regular slot at the sanctuary, but fill in for other vols who are unable to do their kitchen /last medication or biscuit shift. I also do most of the vet runs and any other errands needed.

How many hours do you dedicate per week?

As needed – sometimes just a couple of hours, other weeks 8 hours.

Do you have a particular duty at the Sanctuary?

As PR in committee – TV, radio, newspapers etc as needed.

Also I take care of collecting articles for the newsletter and sanctuary database., as well as doing regular school visits obo The Island Sanctuary.

Is there a memorable experience that you’ll never forget about a particular dog?

Yes – Chokey – I was the first person to get close enough to him to notice that the grey green collar around his neck was pus from an infected wound. When he was a puppy someone tied a piece of wire around his neck and as he grew, the wire got tighter till it was embedded in his neck, and was badly infected. Marianne, another volunteer, managed to catch him and take him to the vet. His recovery was long, but he made it.

If you have to send a one message in a sentence to the Maltese population what would it be?

A pet is for life!


 Name: Jeanelle Grima

Age: 39 yrs

How did you start volunteering at the Island Sanctuary? 

It all started one Saturday morning when I went to the Sanctuary to take a dog for a walk. When I returned the dog, there was a young lady who told me they needed volunteers and asked me if I were interested. I started the following weekend.
How long have you been volunteering?
Six years.

What are your duties at the Sanctuary? 

I do the ‘biscuits’ shift.

How many hours do you dedicate per week? 

5 hrs

Do you have a particular duty at the Sanctuary? 

During the ‘biscuits’ shift we check that the dogs have enough dry food for the night, change the water, clean their pen if necessary, give them treats,lots of cuddles and kisses. Play time is also included. Finally, we give medication to the sick dogs and we give a last feed to the older dogs, small dogs, dogs who have had a recent operation and any dogs who have not eaten in the morning.

Is there a memorable experience that you’ll never forget about a particular dog? 

The life of a volunteer at The Island Sanctuary is full of memories, some nice others not so much. What amazes me the most is the ‘after’ picture of dogs who had been admitted in a really bad state, usually skin and bones, full of fleas and ticks, diseased, heartbroken……a few weeks of tender, loving care and medication later you wouldn’t tell it’s the same dog. Unfortunately, there are others who don’t make it to the ‘after’ picture

If you have to send a one message in a sentence to the Maltese population what would it be?

Look after your pets as best you could, help stray animals that cross your path and your heart will  burst with joy and satisfaction. Just try it.


Name: Gloria Bugeja

Age: 59

How did you start volunteering at the Island Sanctuary?

When my son grew up and could cope on his own, I felt I had to do something to get out of the house abit. However, I didn’t want to go out to work. Thanks God I didn’t need to. So I decided to do voluntary work. I tried various places but it was not what I wanted. Then one day a neighbour of mine suggested that we should try The Island Sanctuary. At the time they were in desperate need of
of volunteers. In fact, they were on the verge of closing down. My great love of dogs and animals soon showed me that this is the place I was looking for and God wanted me here. So here I am!!!!:-)

How long have you been volunteering?

Almost 14 years now.

What are your duties at the Sanctuary?

I do the afternoon shift. The biscuit shift we call it.

How many hours do you dedicate per week?

Between 14 and 16 hours a week and sometimes more depending on the circumstances.

Do you have a particular duty at the Sanctuary?

I also organise fund raising activities, help our PR on the media and sometimes give talks at schools.

Is there a memorable experience that you’ll never forget about a
particular dog?

Two particular dogs. Anders and Palatino. Anders because he was a very dominating and not particularly docile dog when it came to handling him when there was need. In fact most of the volunteers weren’t that eager to face him. Sometimes he didn’t even allow them to go into his room if he was lying at the door!! However, I could do all that needed to be done and he used to trust me in all I did.

Palatino used to share the same pen as Anders, but I never could understand why he got so attached and loved me so much!!!! When Anders passed away, he became one of the runners and he used to follow me around wherever I went. It was me and my shadow!!! They used to be so sweet. My darling Ezzy and Palatino following me everywhere and when it was too hot, both of them would lie down next to each other in the shade, even far away from me as long as they were facing me. Everyone used to know when I arrived at the sanctuary because he used to start howling well before I opened the gate!!!!I grew to love him so much!!!! I was distraught when one late Tuesday afternoon, I realised something was wrong with him and took him quickly to the vet but unfortunately he chose to cross the rainbow bridge in my car, without the chance of the vet seeing him! My only consolation is that I was with him as he slept peacefully into the other world!

If you have to send a one message in a sentence to the Maltese
population what would it be?

Remember God created animals to help us and give us pleasure, we in return have to love, take care and respect them, no matter what, it is our duty!!!!!