By Eileen Samitz
Together with volunteer local and UC Davis faculty veterinarians, UCD veterinary students offer a free clinic monthly to care for the pets of the homeless in Sacramento. The Mercer Clinic was established in 1993 and is located adjacent to the Sacramento Loaves and Fishes facility where food and care are provided for the homeless.
In 1995, the staff VOICE newsletter committee at the UCD Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital started the Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets tradition to brighten the holidays for these very special pets. Sadly, the need has grown significantly over the years and our goal is to make 130 baskets — 80 for dogs and 50 for cats — as we did last year.
The program relies entirely on the donations from pet supply companies for items that they can provide, and monetary contributions from the public to buy the pet gifts and treats. Our group prepares for a basket-stuffin’ gathering on our lunch hour to organize the pet baskets. The baskets then are distributed by the Mercer Clinic veterinary student volunteers to the pets of the homeless who attend the December Mercer Clinic.
Donations are welcome and much-needed all year-round, but this year, Mercer has greater need for monetary donations than ever before. Last year, we were able to provide jackets and sweaters for the dogs to give them a warmer winter. Even some cats are happy to wear a sweater as well. This year, our coat and sweater supply was depleted, but donations would allow us to continue to fill that need.
Additionally, the Mercer Clinic itself has a greater need for donations since a new goal is to build a small pre-fabricated structure for the monthly clinic near Loaves and Fishes. Mercer is one of the few programs like it in the nation, but donations are needed for it to continue.
To learn more about the Mercer Clinic and the Holiday Pet Basket Program, please see our websites at http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer for the Mercer Vet Clinic, and http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer/donation_holiday/index.cfm for the annual holiday pet basket program. We invite everyone to view our photo gallery at http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer/photo_gallery.cfm on the Mercer website to see how your donations help.
Please help us to continue this wonderful program and tradition for these special pets who deserve a happy holiday, too. All financial donations for the Mercer Clinic or the holiday pet baskets are tax-deductible.
To donate to the Holiday Pet Basket Program, please make your check to UC Regents-Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets and mail to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis CA, 95617-1167, Attn: Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets.
If you would like to make a donation to the Mercer Clinic for the ongoing clinic needs, please make your check to Mercer Vet Clinic and it mail to Mercer Vet Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless, P.O. Box 297, Davis, CA, 95617.
— Eileen Samitz is a UC Davis staffer who coordinates the Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Basket Program. Reach her at 530-756-5165 or firstname.lastname@example.org