Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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 emsamitz@ucdavis.edu.

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 tsakash@davisenterprise.net 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 tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (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

    Time to give thanks for nature’s beauty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Food fight … in a good way

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Fremont Weir parking lot remains closed

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

     
    Occupy movement settles in at UC Davis

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Guard reinforcements contain damage in Ferguson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Weather affecting Thanksgiving travelers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Second cat-hoarding suspect arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Happy Thanksgiving from The Enterprise

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Free bike clinic, ride set Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Year-end films to see, or not, on KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    LCI marks 50 years with special service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Senior Center hosts holiday sing-along

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Sutter sponsors qigong for holiday de-stress

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Learn to use Skype at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Girls who volunteer may apply for grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Davis Community Gift Project brightens holidays for children

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Speaker proposes changes in humanities doctorate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Boy Scouts start Christmas tree sales on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Volunteers needed to grow plants for habitat restoration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Rainbow City community meeting set Dec. 1

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    .

    Forum

    She wants more from him

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Innovation parks comparison

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    Musings in the wake of Ferguson decision

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Rich Rifkin: Is it time to be a bear or a bull?

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

     
    Planting love at new home

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Let’s not lose another good DHS coach

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devils prepare for a new season on the mat

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    No excuses, but there’s hope for UCD after 2-9 season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Joseph, Manzanares lead 10 All-Big Sky Aggie picks

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS wrestling is not just for boys

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Little League offers early sign-up discounts

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Kings get past Pelicans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Features

    Salute to non-steamed broccoli

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    It really is ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Elzyne Thompson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Death notice: Buddy Ralph Mills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Ready, Set, Shop!

    Shop locally: You can have your pie and eat it too

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS1

    Santa’s little helper: secrets to happy holiday shopping

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: RSS2

    Make sure it gets there: deadlines for shopping and shipping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS2

    Downtown lights up at holiday open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS3

    Full of warm wishes and over-sharing, the holiday card lives on

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS4

    Woodland celebrates the holidays downtown

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5

    Shop smart: Protect your wallet and your identity this shopping season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5