Help Needed to Share Holiday Warmth With Pets of the Homeless

A man holding a German shepherd-mix puppy stands next to a woman in a black coat and a woman holding a large box of dog supplies
Two veterinary students provide a Mercer Clinic client and her puppy with a new coat and holiday box of pet food and supplies. (Courtesy photo/Mercer Clinic)

With the holidays fast approaching, members of the public are invited to lend a helping hand to the dogs and cats of homeless people in the Sacramento area.

For the 21st year, current and retired 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. This year, 90 of the boxes will be customized for dogs and 40 for cats.

The holiday pet baskets will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 10, to homeless pet owners attending the monthly Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento. The clinic is located near Loaves & Fishes, a private organization that assists hungry and homeless people.

A kitten models its new collar and sweater at Mercer Clinic. (Courtesy photo/Mercer Clinic)
A kitten models its new collar and sweater at Mercer Clinic. (Courtesy photo/Mercer Clinic)

The holiday pet basket program also is once again raising funds to provide 350 pet sweaters and 250 pet coats to help these pets deal with the winter weather. For many homeless individuals, their pets are their only family.

“The smaller, very young and elderly dogs and cats especially need sweaters and coats to protect them against nighttime temperatures,” said Eileen Samitz, a retired veterinary hospital staffer who coordinates the holiday basket program. “Many of these animals would not survive the winter without them.”

She noted that winter temperatures continued two months longer than anticipated last year due to El Niño, depleting the program’s stock of pet coats and sweaters.

“We hope that our kind donors will help us by being even more generous this year so that we can replenish the large supply of pet coats and sweaters that are so desperately needed now,” Samitz said.  “The winter cold and wet conditions are really starting to set in.”

The Mercer Clinic website features two videos about its winter programs. The holiday pet basket and pet coat program are depicted there in a new student-made video, titled Happy Holidays at Mercer Clinic.

How to donate to the holiday pet program

Checks to support the Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets and the purchase of pet coats and sweaters may be made payable to "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, Attention: Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets. All monetary donations are tax-deductible.

Online donations can be made here.

For more information about how to help the Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets Program, contact coordinator Eileen Samitz by email or phone, 530-756-5165. For more information about the Mercer Clinic, visit the clinic’s website.

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 W. 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. Donations to support the ongoing services of Mercer Clinic can be made online.

Media Resources

Trina Wood, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, 530-752-5257,

Pat Bailey, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-219-9640,

Primary Category

Secondary Categories