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‘Tis the season to provide holiday baskets for pets of the homeless

By Pat Bailey on November 24, 2015 in

For the 20th year, members of the public are invited to help provide a bit of holiday warmth and cheer for the dogs and cats of area homeless people.

As they have for two decades, staff volunteers at UC Davis’ Veterinary Hospital are gathering monetary donations to help fill 130 holiday-wrapped boxes with pet toys, treats, food and brushes. The holiday pet baskets will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 12, to pet owners attending the monthly Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento.

The Holiday Pet Basket Program also is raising funds for the fifth year to provide 200 pet sweaters and 200 pet coats to help these pets survive the winter weather.

“With El Niño expected to bring more rain to our region this winter, it is especially important that we provide the coats and sweaters as well as the holiday basket supplies for these companion animals,” said Eileen Samitz, a recently retired veterinary hospital staffer who coordinates the holiday basket program. “The coats and sweaters are particularly important for smaller and older pets, which are more sensitive to the cold weather that is a such a difficult part of wintertime life on the streets.”

Checks to support the holiday pet baskets and purchase of pet coats and sweaters may be made payable to the UC Regents - Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets and mailed to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis, CA 95617-1167, Attn: Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets. All monetary donations are tax-deductible.

Online donations can be made directly to the Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Basket Program at

More information about how to help the Mercer Holiday Pet Basket Program can be obtained from coordinator Eileen Samitz at (530) 756-5165, For more information about Mercer Clinic, visit the clinic’s website, with video and photo gallery, at:

About the Mercer Clinic

Since 1992, the Mercer Clinic nonprofit organization has provided the pets of homeless individuals with basic veterinary care, access to emergency care, and pet food — all free of charge. The clinic is open on the second Saturday of each month, staffed by veterinary faculty and practitioners who volunteer their time and supervise the veterinary students, who run the clinic. The students gain valuable experience as they apply their studies and work alongside veterinarians to learn veterinary responsibilities and client communication skills.

In addition, Mercer Clinic works to provide pet vaccinations and flea- and tick-control medications, and to reduce pet overpopulation by arranging for spay and neuter surgeries for the animals.

Mercer Clinic takes place at Loaves & Fishes, 1321 West C St., Sacramento. The clinic has received the American Veterinary Medical Association Humane Award and the Sacramento SPCA “Humane-itarian” award for its work with this special population of animal companions.

In 2015, the clinic also received the UC Davis Civic Engagement Award and the Presidential Award for Community Service from President Obama.

Media contact(s)

Pat Bailey, Research news (emphasis: agricultural and nutritional sciences, and veterinary medicine), 530-219-9640,

Trina Wood, 530-752-5257,