mercer clinic

Spread a Little Cheer for Pets of the Homeless

by Dave Jones, Dateline 

Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets, given to homeless people for their pets, will soon be distributed for the 26th consecutive year, thanks to volunteer elves who share an affiliation with the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. And the elves have issued their annual fundraising appeal to keep the project going.

It began in 1995, organized by hospital staff members for the benefit of homeless people and their pets who visited the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless, another project with UC Davis volunteers: students and veterinarians from the School of Veterinary Medicine, and pre-veterinary undergraduates. The clinic is in Sacramento, on the grounds of the charity organization Loaves & Fishes where the Holiday Pet Baskets are distributed.

The holiday program still has most of its original volunteers — even those who have retired from the hospital — and newer staff members have joined in.

The pandemic has limited the volunteers’ ability to gather for basket-decorating, so this year’s goodies will come in bags adorned with the Mercer Clinic logo, according to VMTH retiree Eileen Samitz, who serves as co-coordinator with Becky Griffey, a VMTH employee.

The distribution will comprise 130 bags in all — 100 for dogs and 30 for cats — holding toys, treats and brushes, typical of what has been given since the first year of the program.

The distribution also will include pet coats and sweaters — something the elves added to the program in 2012, offering protection from rain and cold when pets are spending winter days and nights outdoors with their people.

Donations to the Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets and Winter Pet Coat and Sweater Program are tax-deductible and can be made as follows:

  • Online (through the UC Davis Giving website)
  • Check — Payable to “UC Regents-Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets.” Mail to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis 95617-1167, Attention: Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets.

For more information, contact co-coordinator Samitz by email or phone, 530-756-5165.

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