Veterinarian Service for Homeless

While everyone would agree this is a good service for those in need, as reported by Comstock’s Magazine, it also furthers the ability of homeless to remain homeless and the array of services offered at the major local homeless service provider is astounding, feeding into the narrative that for many people, being homeless is an act of choice, not necessity.

An excerpt from the Comstock’s article.

Founded by UC Davis students in 1992, and located at Loaves and Fishes in Sacramento, the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless serves not only animals, but the people who love them and the community as a whole.

“This clinic is a success story,” says CEO Dr. Laurel Gershwin, who is also a veterinarian and UCD professor of immunology. Gershwin says that because founders Dr. Frank Lutz and the late Dr. Tom Kendall had such a strong relationship with the City of Sacramento, and through the dedication of university faculty, students, and private veterinary practitioners, the clinic has been successfully operating for nearly 25 years.

The Mercer Clinic helps heal animals and helps heal the souls of their human companions. “Animals give unconditional love, and anyone who’s homeless needs that as much as anything else,” Gershwin concludes. “By helping the animals, we are helping the people.”

Through the years, Mercer has had temporary sites at Loaves and Fishes with rooms, trailers and corners of warehouses, but was permanently established about two years ago in an 80- by 20-foot prefabricated building, complete with electricity and plumbing. “Now we have individual exam rooms, storage for prescription veterinary diets, pharmaceutical and lab equipment, and an isolation room, which helps control the spread of infectious agents,” Gershwin notes.

However, the clinic’s surgery suite needs an anesthesia machine, surgical instruments and a surgical table — its dated ultrasound equipment could stand an upgrade, too. Fundraising for the nonprofit is an ongoing commitment. “I work with students in fundraising opportunities and writing grants to maintain our overall financial stability,” says Mercer CFO Dr. Alissa Burnett. “The short term goal, though, is $75,000 to get our surgical suite functional. We need to be able to do our own surgeries so we don’t have to pay other clinics.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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