The Gozitan village of Sannat has adopted a new way of protecting its animals: by introducing a community animal care steward.
The steward’s job is to take care of the street animals and pets that inhabit Sannat – a largely rural Gozitan village – and also to educate the residents on how best to take care of these animals.
Talk to Malta Independent On this new role, the mayor of Sannat, Philip Vella, said that the council could already see a difference since the appointment of the intendant.
The Community Animal Care Steward was appointed to the locality in early January.
Speaking on behalf of the local council, Vella said the council decided to introduce the new role after seeing locals giving leftovers to stray cats. The local council felt that to protect these animals, hiring an animal sitter seemed like the most appropriate course of action to take.
“We felt that people needed more education about animals, especially those found on the streets,” Vella said.
The role of the steward is to take care of the animals present in Sannat. Citing some examples of the work of the steward, the mayor explained how, in the presence of an animal abandoned in the streets, it is the job of the steward to find out who the owner is and to ensure that the escaped finds its owner.
A current issue that is being addressed through the Animal Care Steward is owners not picking up dog litter in certain areas of Sannat.
“We started a campaign with the idea of allocating dog bins and signs around Sannat so locals know they can’t keep doing these things,” Vella said.
Despite this, pet owners haven’t been much help when it comes to scooping up their dog’s litter. The local council were able to identify critical areas where this was happening frequently, where, with the help of the Community Animal Steward, they are tackling it.
Currently, one of the key areas is almost cleared, Vella said.
Although the Steward has a uniform, he may look for occasions when it is better not to wear one in order to catch certain acts as they occur. However, he will have an identity card on him at all times, said the mayor.
The steward is also responsible for investigating and inspecting reports of animal cruelty in the locality.
Since the steward has an allocated work schedule, he is very flexible in case the local council needs his immediate help.
The local council of Sannat was able to hire the steward after requesting funds through a circular issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights and the Ministry of Heritage National and Arts and Local Government, from a 2021-2022 grant program. that there is a Community Steward Officer for the Proper Treatment of Animals to work in the locality.