Archived News


November 15, 2007

Volunteers at UC Davis' William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are revving up their holiday spirit and invite the community to join in as they prepare holiday gift "baskets" for the dogs and cats of the homeless.

Some 130 holiday-wrapped boxes filled with canned and dry food, treats, toys, leashes and pet-care products will be distributed on December 8 to the homeless clients and their pets who visit Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless in Sacramento.

The clinic, operated by School of Veterinary Medicine students and faculty, and private veterinarians, is located next to the nonprofit Loaves and Fishes facility. It provides the animals of homeless individuals with basic veterinary care, access to emergency care and high-quality pet food, all free of charge.

"For the holiday baskets, our primary need is for monetary donations that can be used to purchase pet toys, which these owners cannot afford for their four-legged companions. We want them all to have a brighter holiday season," said Eileen Samitz, a clinical microbiologist at the teaching hospital. Using vacation time, Samitz annually coordinates a team of volunteers that carries out the longtime tradition.

While pet supply companies provide the food and some of the other items for the holiday pet baskets, other financial donations for toys and treats come in from the community. These donations enable the volunteers to make sure that the contents of the pet baskets are fairly uniform.

Since 1995, the staff of the teaching hospital's newsletter, "Voice," has organized holiday pet boxes for Mercer Veterinary Clinic, which was started in 1992 by UC Davis veterinary students. The clinic is open on the second Saturday of each month, staffed by faculty and private veterinarians who volunteer their time and supervise the students.

In addition to the Holiday Pet Basket Program, Mercer Veterinary Clinic invites donations to be made throughout the year. The clinic relies entirely on donations and small grants to provide veterinary care to the pets of the homeless.

To make a financial donation (which is tax deductible) to the Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets, please make your check out to: VMTH-Mercer Clinic and send it to: UC Davis, VMTH Business Annex, Financial Services - Room 110, Davis CA 95616, Attn. Deborah Nelson.

If you wish to donate directly to the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for their year-round needs (which is also tax deductible), please make your check out to Mercer Veterinary Clinic and mail it to: Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless, P.O. Box 297, Davis CA, 95617.

More information about Mercer Veterinary Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets is available on the Web.

*Media are welcome to cover the packaging and distribution of the pet boxes, which will be assembled from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, by staff and students at the veterinary hospital in Davis. The boxes will be distributed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, to clients of the Mercer Veterinary Clinic.

The clinic and Loaves & Fishes are located at 1321 West C St. in Sacramento. Veterinarians and students will be available for interviews.

Media contact:

Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,