Archived News

Community Pitches in for Student-run Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless

November 14, 2006

Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless brings the holiday spirit to pets Saturday, December 9, 2006, when veterinary students will distribute 130 "holiday pet baskets" filled with food, leashes, grooming aids, treats and toys at the monthly clinic in Sacramento.

Volunteer staff members from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and related departments carry on the tradition they began in 1995 by collecting donated supplies, cash contributions and boxes that are wrapped festively during November. Staff members gather on their lunch hour early in December to assemble and fill the "baskets" for dogs and cats with items from local pet stores, pet food companies and individual donors.

Volunteers estimate that this year's "stuffing party" will net 130 holiday pet baskets for students to deliver.

The Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless provides free veterinary care services for the animal companions of the homeless on the second Saturday of each month in Sacramento, California at Loaves & Fishes, an organization that provides an array of services to the homeless.

Faculty veterinarians and local practitioners give their time to treat animals and supervise students, who learn hands-on veterinary skills and client relations skills while helping this underserved community. Mercer members treat about 50 patients per session and distribute more than 2,000 pounds of free pet food each month to their clients.

In addition to improving the lives of the pets of the homeless, Mercer Veterinary Clinic works to reduce pet overpopulation by arranging free spay/neuter surgery for patients. Since 1993, Mercer Veterinary Clinic has altered more than 1,200 animals, preventing the births of hundreds of unwanted litters.

The non-profit organization depends solely on volunteers and donations to cover its operating costs. Tax-deductible contributions help the Mercer Veterinary Clinic continue to reach out to the homeless community while giving veterinary students the opportunity to practice hands-on medical skills.

Because of its ongoing commitment to promote the humane treatment of animals, the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless received the 1998 American Veterinary Medical Association Humane Award, the 2003 UC Davis Human Corps Award for community service, and the Sacramento SPCA’s 2005 Humane-itarian Award for veterinary service.

We accept contributions all year round of donated items or financial contributions (tax deductible) for the Holiday Pet Baskets and the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless. For items to be donated, please e-mail Eileen Samitz at

Monetary donations help us the most in order to purchase the many items that we need for the baskets and to supply the clinic with needed medications, supplies, diagnostic services and surgical medical care for the patients. To make a financial donation to the Mercer Clinic and the Holiday Pet Baskets, please make your check payable to the VMTH-Mercer Vet Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets and send it to:

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
VMTH Business Annex
Financial Services - Room 110
Davis CA 95616
Attn. Debra Nelson

More about Mercer Veterinary Clinic and the history of the Holiday Pet Basket program

Related story about pet pictures with Santa fund-raiser in Sacramento