Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless is a 501(c)(3) non-profit run by UCDSVM students, UCD undergraduates, and volunteer veterinarians; we serve the homeless population of Sacramento by running a monthly clinic to provide veterinary care to companion animals. During the colder months we run our Coats & Sweaters program to ensure that every patient stays warm. We also have a Holiday Pet Basket program that provides clients with boxes full of dog and cat toys, treat, brushes, collars, and other goodies. (Videos found here). Clinic is a fast-paced learning environment where you will be exposed to shelter-like veterinary medicine, since we typically do not have thorough backgrounds for our patients' histories and supplies may be limited in addition to the extent of our care. You can find photos and stories of some of our clients through our Facebook page linked here.
What makes Mercer different from other clinics?
There are many things that make Mercer unique from other volunteer opportunities. For instance, students are not required to have prior experience working with companion animals in order to volunteer. We understand that it can be a vicious cycle when it comes to volunteering or interning--you need experience for the job, and you need the job to get experience.
What can undergraduates expect to be doing while volunteering in clinic?
Undergraduates play a vital role to operating clinic since we act as veterinary assistants and get paired with a veterinary student to work on cases. Typical duties include scribing, restraining, taking temperatures, gathering vaccines and preventatives for the veterinary students. The undergraduate coordinators run the vaccine table where we distribute flea and tick medication, draw up vaccines, hand out muzzles, and maintain inventory of supplies.
How are volunteers chosen for clinic?
Since there is limited space at clinic, we may not always choose all volunteers who sign up for clinic to volunteer each month. Clinic only runs once a month, so the other three Saturdays you can find undergrads tabling at the Davis Farmer's Market selling dog and cat toys in order to raise funds for clinic (we run off donations and grants!). If there is not enough space at clinic for all undergrad volunteers who signed up to attend, then we prioritize by selecting folks who have volunteered at the market more frequently.
How can I get started?
Before attending clinic, we simply ask volunteers to attend orientation in order to go over safety procedures, restraint techniques, and general clinic regulations. We host orientations twice per quarter (next one: Feb 1, @ Wellman 226, 6:30-7:30pm) . For updates on orientation dates and location, you can check out our Mercer Undergrad Facebook page linked here. After attending orientation, students can start signing up to volunteer for clinic or Farmers Market fundraising days. If you would like to be added to our listserv for updates, contact the undergraduate coordinator via email.