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Holiday Gift Baskets for Homeless Pets: How You Can Help

Funds are especially needed to purchase pet coats and sweaters to help protect the animals from the wet and cold conditions.

UC Davis News Service

Community members are invited to spread a little cheer this year by helping UC Davis volunteers fill holiday pet baskets for the four-legged companions of area homeless individuals.

A team of staff volunteers at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital needs help with monetary donations to provide more than 130 holiday-wrapped boxes filled with toys, treats, leashes, food and other pet-care products to animals served at the Mercer Clinic in Sacramento.

Funds are especially needed to purchase pet coats and sweaters to help protect the animals from the wet and cold conditions they and their owners often encounter during the winter months.

“We’re running out of sweaters and coats this year so we are asking folks to please give what they can to help us to continue providing these much-needed items,” said Eileen Samitz, a clinical microbiologist, who uses vacation time annually to coordinate the gift basket program.

“The owners are so grateful since the coats help keep their beloved four-legged companions warm,” Samitz said. “Even some of the cats are happy to wear the sweaters.”

While pet supply companies provide food and some of the other items for the holiday pet baskets, monetary donations for the sweaters, as well as toys, treats, clinic supplies and operational costs, are still needed. Veterinary students will distribute the gift boxes to their clients and pets on Saturday, Dec. 8, during the clinic’s monthly operation.

Monetary contributions, in the form of checks made payable to the UC Regents - Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets, can be 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.

A donation form to accompany the check and more information about the Mercer Holiday Pet Basket project are available online or from Samitz at (530) 756-5165 or emsamitz@ucdavis.edu.

General information about the Mercer Clinic. General donations to the clinic can be made at any time by sending a check, payable to Mercer Veterinary Clinic, to the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless, P.O. Box 297 Davis, CA 95617.

About the Mercer Clinic

Since 1992, the Mercer Clinic 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. Veterinary students also gain valuable experience applying their studies and working alongside veterinarians to learn veterinary responsibilities and client communication skills.

In addition to improving the lives of the pets of the homeless, the Mercer Clinic works to reduce pet overpopulation by arranging free spay and neuter surgeries for the animals. 

The clinic takes place at Loaves & Fishes, 1321 West C St., Sacramento. The Mercer 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.

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