A Cooperative Effort
Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless is a 501(C)3, non-profit organization (completely independent of UC Davis) providing free medical care for the animal companions of the homeless. The clinic meets the second Saturday of every month at Loaves and Fishes, a Sacramento-based organization which provides an array of services to the homeless.
Mercer Clinic is a cooperative effort between multiple groups, including veterinary volunteers (doctors and students), undergraduate vet aide students, and veterinary companies sponsoring efforts. More than 30 veterinary students, working alongside veterinarians, volunteer their time each month, working with clients, conducting physical exams and practicing preventive medicine on feline & canine patients (heartworm prevention, flea treatment and vaccines).
Mercer Clinic would not run smoothly without the help from the Vet-Aide Club, an undergraduate club that offers students the opportunity to gain experience with veterinary students and professionals. The clinic gives these students the opportunity to gain crucial hands-on experience while assisting at the clinic and working as a team with veterinary students.
Mercer Clinic is also an extremely valuable educational experience for the veterinary students. Not only are the students able to utilize a clinical application of their studies, but they also gain valuable time working with and learning from practicing veterinarians. Students must follow up on their cases—if waiting on test results—by contacting the clients, in turn teaching them valuable communication skills. These types of responsibilities will help veterinary students improve skills that will enrich their careers in the future.
In addition to improving the lives of the pets of the homeless, the clinic works to reduce pet over-population. Clients are counseled on the benefits of spaying and neutering. Surgery is provided at no cost, usually at a spay/neuter clinic held the day after, should the owners elect to alter their animals. Since 1993, the clinic has altered over 1,200 animals.
Mercer Veterinary Clinic was selected as the 1998 recipient of the American Veterinary Medical Association Humane Award and the 2005 recipient of the Sacramento SPCA “Humane-itarian” Award. Both awards recognize outstanding efforts to eliminate animal cruelty and promote the humane treatment of animals.