A special group of elves is once again taking up a collection to provide holiday treats, including all-important coats and sweaters, to dogs and cats seen at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento.
Mercer, one of the few free clinics in the nation for pets of homeless people, is an all-volunteer project of veterinary students, preveterinary undergraduates and veterinarians of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.
The Mercer elves also have a UC Davis connection: They are Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital staff (who volunteer their time) or retirees. Hospital staff started the project 22 years ago, and most of the original team is still at it.
They began with baskets of toys, treats, food and brushes. About five years ago, the elves started handing out coats and sweaters, too. “They are critical to help with the survival of the pets through the winter, since they are not allowed in many of the homeless shelters,” said Eileen Samitz, a veterinary hospital retiree who serves as the project coordinator.
“The most vulnerable are the smaller and more elderly pets, and so these coats and sweaters help them weather the wet and cold winter elements,” she said.
During last year’s particularly wet and cold winter, “we went through more coats and sweaters than ever before — distributing more than 200 coats and 200 sweaters.”
Donations will be used to replenish the coat and sweater supply, and to fill 130 gift baskets — 90 for dogs and 40 for cats.
This year’s distribution is set for Saturday, Dec. 9, during the monthly clinic (it’s open the second Saturday of every month). Mercer Clinic is on the grounds of Sacramento’s Loaves & Fishes, which provides food and shelter and other services to homeless people.
“All of this — the Mercer Clinic, the holiday gift baskets, the pet coats and sweaters — all of this is possible because of our volunteer veterinary students and undergrads, veterinarians, hospital staff and retirees, and especially our generous public and pet supply company donors,” Samitz said.
Holiday Pet Baskets online: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer/donation_holiday/index.cfm
About the Mercer Clinic
Since 1992, the Mercer Clinic nonprofit organization has provided the pets of homeless people 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 volunteers from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, including faculty and other veterinary professionals who 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, the 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.
The clinic is the recipient of a Humane Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association and a Humane-itarian Award from the Sacramento SPCA, as well as a UC Davis Civic Engagement Award and a Presidential Award for Community Service, from President Barack Obama.
How to make tax-deductible contributions to the Mercer Clinic, for supplies and other operational costs: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer/donation/index.cfm