ITHACA, N.Y. – About 1,800 animals pass through the doors of the SPCA of Tompkins County every year. They’re adorable, playful and eminently adoptable, but they’re also hungry and messy.

For about four decades, Jutta Locker has brought an annual holiday haul of food, toys, cleaning supplies and treats to help knock some items off the SPCA’s wish list. Each year, the pile of gifts seems to get a little bit bigger.

This year, Locker and her daughter Jessi brought about 1,200 cans of wet dog food along with heaps of Kong chew toys, treats like biscuits and Cheez Whiz, sacks of cat litter, and an array of cleaning supplies. In addition to the $2,300 contributed by Locker, the donation got a boost from Lilley’s Tack and Feed in Dryden and Ithaca Grain and Pet Supply.

Related: Ithaca woman donates about 1,200 cans of dog food — a yearly tradition

Jim Bouderau, the Tompkins SPCA’s executive director, said the canned food would cover about six months of demand, supplemented with dry kibble donated by Hills Science Diet Pet Nutrition.

Jim Bouderau unloads sacks of cat litter from the Lockers’ haul. (Photo provided by Lynne Conway)
Jim Bouderau unloads sacks of cat litter from the Lockers’ haul. (Photo provided by Lynne Conway)

About 50 percent of the SPCA’s annual donations come in during the holiday season, according to Boudreau. Big donations like Locker’s go a long way toward helping make ends meet during the busy summer and fall months.

“We rely on the generosity of the community to do what we do,” Bouderau said.

While big gifts have a big impact, Bouderau emphasized that small gifts are essential to the SPCA’s work too.

“People might think small donations don’t help,” Bouderau said, “but we totally need it, we totally use it, and we totally appreciate it.”

He said donating could be as simple as picking up an extra pack of paper towels while at the grocery store or an extra jug of laundry detergent. Every donation of supplies helps free up revenue for priorities like providing veterinary care and hosting spay and neuter clinics, which serve about 2,000 animals each year.

For Locker, the choice to give to the SPCA is simple. “We’re animal lovers,” she said.

Fellow animal lovers can find a list of items the Tompkins County SPCA urgently needs on their website, as well as information about how to volunteer.

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.