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Outreach for Holiday Pet Baskets for the Homeless

November 5, 2008

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Volunteers at UC Davis' William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) are revving up their holiday spirit and invite the community to join in as they prepare holiday gift "baskets" (which are actually holiday decorated boxes) 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 December 13 to the homeless clients and their pets who visit the monthly Mercer Veterinary Clinic.

The Mercer organization, run by volunteer veterinary students and veterinarians, provides veterinary care and referral services for pets of the homeless. The clinic is  located in Sacramento next to the nonprofit Loaves and Fishes facility dedicated to feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

"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, so they can have a brighter holiday season," said Eileen Samitz, a clinical microbiologist at the VMTH. Using vacation time annually, Samitz coordinates a team of volunteers that carries out the longtime tradition begun by hospital staff in 1995.


While pet supply companies provide the food and some of the other items for the holiday pet baskets, other donations for toys and treats come from the community. 

In order to provide enough practical pet toys and treats for the 130 holiday pet baskets, a fundraising outreach helps make the event a success every year. To make a donation for the pet baskets, please make your donation check out to: VMTH-Mercer Clinic and send it to:

Debra Nelson
102 VMTH Annex
One Shields Avenue
Davis CA 95616

The gift boxes are tentatively scheduled to be filled on Wednesday, December 10 at the teaching hospital. For more information about the holiday pet baskets, please see our Web site,

Mercer Veterinary Clinic, a 501(C)3 non-profit organization begun by veterinary students in 1992, relies entirely on donations and small grants for funding year round. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation for the clinic, please send your check to: Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless, P.O. Box 297, Davis CA, 95617. For more information please see the Mercer Clinic website at


Eileen M. Samitz,  Mercer Holiday Pet Basket Program Coordinator, (530) 756-5165 (eves),

Lynn Narlesky, Communications, School of Veterinary Medicine Dean's Office, (530) 752-5257,

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