Fourteen years ago, amid agricultural land in the Paradise Bay area of Mellieha, a disused rabbit breeding farm and adjacent land was to become the home of Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. In a state of disrepair, the area was taken over by local business owner Fabio Ciappara and dentist, Mark Vella Bardon and work began.

Noah’s Ark was the brain child of Fabio, who after taking a walk one day in Ahrax, Mellieha, came across a neglected dog wandering alone across the land and rummaging for food. The dog was in appalling condition and not surprisingly was terrified people, making it impossible for Fabio to approach her. Appalled by the dog’s condition, Fabio returned to the area daily taking food and water until eventually she gained his trust and Fabio could put a lead on her and take her to the local vet for treatment.

“Lady” made a full recovery and was easily found a new loving home with farm owner friends of Fabio. It is from this heart-warming incident that Noah’ Ark was born.

From its inception in 2004 and starting with just 12 rescued dogs, Noah’s Ark has grown from strength to strength. Over the years, this now well-known sanctuary has saved hundreds of abandoned dogs and sadly often full, the shelter can house over 100 dogs comfortably. From some dogs having just a short stay until they are rehomed, to other dogs spending years there, Noah’s Ark provides all their food, bedding and costs for all veterinary treatment.

Registered as an NGO since 2008, the charity has a bank of dedicated volunteers and through their love of animals, sheer hard work and giving of their free time, allows Noah’s Ark to continue with the fantastic work they do.

To ensure dogs and prospective new owners are well suited, staff will ensure the whole family meet the dog and home visits are made in Malta, ensuring dogs being returned to the shelter are far and few between.

Not only dogs which have been abandoned are cared for here, the shelter also takes in dogs in need of a new home for genuine reasons with one very recent addition to Noah’s Ark being that of a well-loved 6-year-old dog whose owner regretfully had to give her up after having to move to a more affordable accommodation where pets are not allowed.

Aside from providing comfortable shelter and healthcare for their dogs, the shelter also actively encourages microchipping in conjunction with constant campaigning to improve responsible breeding while being at the forefront of promoting animal welfare.

Back in 2009, Noah’s Ark (through funding from the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs) launched an animal ambulance service for rescuing both stray cats and dogs. The service was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the dedicated workers set about rescuing all wandering cats and dogs from major roads before they got injured or potentially caused an accident. The following year, the service was taken over by the government’s Animal Welfare Department and unfortunately it was decided by them, from then on, to only pick up animals once they were injured.

Despite Noah’s Ark being well known island wide for the service it provides, sadly, to this day the NGO receives very little funding from the government. Noah’s Ark relies solely on monetary donations made from fundraising events, kind-hearted individuals, and local businesses. Volunteers dedicate their spare time and no matter how much or how little this may be, it is always appreciated.

Living in Malta or even holiday, why not spare an hour to take one of the residents for a walk in the beautiful surrounding areas of Paradise Bay? It’s certainly not unheard of for some of these dogs to be rehomed overseas either. You never know, you may just fall in love and be able to offer one of these adorable characters their much-deserved forever home.