Visiting The Island Sanctuary - the dogs and the beautiful souls behind this operation


"In an ideal world every home would have a dog and every dog would have a home". This is the first thing I read as soon as I got back home from our visit at The Island Sanctuary in Delimara on the 16th of May, 2018. Unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world, and for these 60 or so dogs that are currently finding refuge at this shelter, Claire, Sylvia and the rest of the team are not only their angels but their salvation!

The sanctuary was set up, under a different name, in 1989 and it was originally based on Manoel Island and known as "Animal Samaritans Association". The Island Sanctuary moved to its current location in 1991.

As we walked in, we were greeted by dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages...all wagging their tails, all happy....we could almost see them grinning through their teeth. However, the thing that struck me the most was how the whole team that was currently working their shift knew all the dogs by name. Not only, but they also knew their temperament, what they like and what they dislike.

We spoke about the dogs' stories, most of which are so sad I personally had to struggle not to burst into tears...but what interests us the most is the conversation we had about how the general public can help The Island Sanctuary.


One must be careful and keep in mind that if you wish to volunteer your prime intention is to help the dogs....whatever that takes. Unfortunately, sometimes people go to sanctuaries thinking that they can pick and choose the chores they want to do...which generally means that they expect to take the dogs for walks, feed them or play with them.

As a mama of two adopted dogs myself, I can guarantee that earning a dog's trust takes time...months, sometimes years, especially if you only see them once in a while. It takes patience, commitment and if you go to the sanctuary to help and you get asked to help with the dishes (for example) don't be discouraged. That is how everyone started. Remember that most of these dogs have a horrid past and despite your good intentions, they might find it very difficult to meet strangers as very often, this would have previously led to distress. So be is very rewarding :)


The dogs at The Island Sanctuary have a varied diet based on freshly cooked meat, including chicken and beef. However, they are very choosy and will not eat something unless they like it. We, ourselves, witnessed a truckload of meat arriving at the sanctuary whilst we were please, if you wish to donate food to the sanctuary, we'd recommend getting in touch with the team so they direct you to their suppliers. I'm sure you'd all agree with me that if you're going to give a gift, might as well make sure that it is one they are going to love :)

Sponsoring a dog for only €30 per year

You might be a dog lover but are not in a position to adopt for the time being. This way you might choose to sponsor a dog and that way you would be helping one of those who will, unfortunately, never get adopted. This is also possible if, for example, you are not currently in Malta but still wish to help. It only costs €30 per YEAR!! Less than what you would pay for a meal or an evening out with friends!

Financial Contributions and Donations

Funds are always necessary not only to buy food and medication but also for the day to day running of the sanctuary. That includes paying the bills, fixing what gets broken, and making the premises safer for the dogs and visitors to enjoy. If you wish to help financially by means of a bank transfer, you can simply click here and this will take you to all the info you need.


Needless to say, this is the best case scenario, however, once again it is not a simple procedure and if the ladies at the sanctuary seem to be too strict with letting a dog go, that is only because they truly care and they truly want to find a forever home for him or her.

And I'll add one final note....adopting a dog is truly the nicest and most rewarding thing you can do but do not forget that this is a lifetime commitment, so please do not take it lightly. Consider the following:

  • Do you have enough time for the dog?

  • Do you have time to train the dog (especially if still a puppy)?

  • Do you have the patience to put up with any mischief that the dog or puppy might be up to?

  • Do you live in a place that allows you to keep a pet?

  • Have you thought about the size of the dog you want? Remember the larger the dog the more exercise they require regularly.

  • Have you considered adopting a senior dog? This is especially ideal if you want a calmer dog who is past barking at everything that moves but still has a lot of love and companionship to give to the family. Most of the dogs at the sanctuary are indeed adults, not puppies. Unfortunately they are the ones who get left behind, but that does not mean that they do not deserve to spend their adult years giving and receiving the love of a good home.

If you've answered yes to the above questions....then be prepared for a lifetime of unconditional love and lots of doggie kisses because there is truly nothing more pure and beautiful than the love of a dog :)