Thursday, March 26, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Vet students get hands-on experience

Hatchet gets a checkup from a UC Davis veterinarian as he's held in the arms of vet student Jenelle Soppet on Saturday at the Mercer Veterinary Clinic in Sacramento. The clinic is staffed by volunteer veterinarians and veterinary students from UC Davis. Hatchet is sporting a warm new sweater. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | December 11, 2012 |

SACRAMENTO — Some of the best hands-on medical training for UC Davis students doesn’t happen in hospitals, or in private clinics.

It actually takes place in a forgotten row of rusted metal buildings in a tough part of Sacramento. There, students of the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine visit month after month and transform an old, vacant building into a bustling, highly organized clinic for the homeless and their furry companions.

On the second Saturday of every month, a few vets in training arrive early in the morning to set up what looks like an urban M*A*S*H unit to provide free medical treatment to hundreds of homeless pets.

The student-run, nonprofit program, called the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless, sits just outside the Loaves and Fishes homeless shelter, 1321 N. C St.

They’ve been there for the community for almost 20 years.

“It’s such a big help,” said Paul Firestone, a homeless man who brought his four-legged pal Bridgett to be checked by the students Saturday. “I’ve been coming here for seven years and (the clinic has) always helped me.”

The help goes both ways, however.

While the homeless receive medical treatment for their pets — pets that many of them have developed strong bonds with during what can be an isolated life living on the street — the students also gain valuable experience treating patients in a real-life setting.

“It’s one of the few places where we do everything,” said Damion Walters, who is in his second year of vet school training. Walters coordinates the program with two other second-year students, who are solely responsible for running the program.

“It’s so satisfying,” added fellow coordinator Tarini Ullal.

Under the supervision of licensed veterinarians, students run routine diagnostic tests, treat common animal medical problems like ear mites, infections and minor wounds, and can even make referrals if an animal requires surgery, radiology or other advanced care.

According to Samuel Varon, the third clinic coordinator, it’s experience that students ordinarily wouldn’t get until their third or fourth years in the program.

“We definitely feel more prepared,” Varon said.

On Saturday, in addition to the regular care they provide to those seeking medical attention for their pets, the student volunteers also distributed their annual holiday baskets to every animal they saw, more than 130 in total.

The wrapped boxes are filled to the brim with food, medicine, brushes, toys and other gifts that the Mercer Clinic collects throughout the year for the homeless people and their pets.

The group also handed out clothing and blankets for the animals, a new service offered by the clinic and a vital gift for the pets and their owners during the harsh winter months.

Many homeless shelters don’t allow animals, which forces those who don’t want to part with their beloved companions to stay outside at night and endure cold and sometimes rain.

“Smaller animals, they have a more difficult time maintaining their body temperature,” explained Eileen Samitz, who coordinates the pet basket program through the Mercer Clinic. “That’s why we’ve developed the coat and sweater program because we know there is such a great need.”

But while the group has enough funds this year to provide the baskets, coats and sweaters, donations are needed to continue the program in future years.

Samitz and Dr. Laurel Gershwin, a UCD veterinary professor of immunology who runs the entire Mercer Clinic, say both the clinic and the pet basket program need donations.

“This is one of the few programs like it in the nation and it sets a great example of what can happen elsewhere,” Samitz said. “We’re looking for monetary help from the community so we can continue that (work).”

The group also has plans to install two pre-fabricated trailers next to the Loaves and Fishes shelter to offer a better and more comfortable place to see and treat patients. Any donations to the general clinic, Samitz added, would help the students meet that goal.

The volunteers keep much of their medical supplies and the equipment for the makeshift lab they’ve set up inside the open metal structure, but the majority of the treatment is done outside, next to the building, on plastic folding tables.

It’s not the ideal situation, especially during the extreme heat of the summer and the coldest and rainiest part of the winter, Gershwin said Saturday.

Monetary contributions for the pet basket program may be mailed to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis, CA 95617-1167. Make checks payable to the UC Regents-Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets.

A donation form to accompany the check and more information about the pet basket project are available at http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer/donation_holiday.html or from Samitz at 530-756-5165 or [email protected].

General information about the Mercer Clinic is available at http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer/donation/index.cfm.

General donations to the clinic may be made at any time by sending a check, payable to Mercer Veterinary Clinic, to the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless, P.O. Box 297, Davis, CA 95617.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Comments

comments

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    CSU trustees name new president at Sac State

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

    Stacie Frerichs named Jay Gerber Award recipient

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    UC Davis lung cancer surgery meets Twitter

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Summit searches for agricultural solutions

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Police still seeking owners of stolen bikes

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: Everything has a price, or it should

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    Silicon Valley gender discrimination lawsuit goes to jury

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Police call kidnap a hoax, now can’t find California woman

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Former Davis man gets 9-year term for sword attack

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Property-tax penalties kick in after April 10

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Child abuse conference returns to Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Arts Centers offers portrait-drawing class

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Parenting class meets Tuesdays

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Apply for library parcel tax exemption by June 1

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Posthumous video supports aid-in-dying bill

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    State Senate moves on $1 billion water plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    .

    Forum

    This family seems lost

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Creating the university of the 21st Century

    By LInda Katehi | From Page: A8

    Farmers Market went hog-wild

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Trade deal deserves full scrutiny

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Novruz should become a holiday

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    Devils swimmers find wins against Franklin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Late surge sends Sheldon softballers past DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Davis girls thrash Grant on the pitch

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD footballers to face Cal in 2019

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil boys look great on the links

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Youth soccer: Defense carries Davis Dilemma to a third-place finish

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: DART swimmers shine at national championships

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Devil boys win big on the tennis court

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    Point of Brew: About the beer and bicycling universe

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Arts

    Max Raabe returns with elegant songs from the ’20s and ’30s

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    DMTC hosting its sixth annual poker tournament

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ makes for madcap evening

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, March 26, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B9