The sixteenth anniversary “Hot Dog Day” on the Ithaca Commons this Friday features a benefit hot dog sale for the Tompkins County SPCA, and an opportunity to meet cats and dogs available for adoption. Lou Cassaniti, who operates a seasonal hot dog stand on the Commons, donates 100% of proceeds to the SPCA one day a year.
The SPCA says Hot Dog Day dates back sixteen years, with Lou Cassaniti’s hot dog stand grilling up hot dogs and vegetarian “not dogs,” typically raising over $3,000 each year on a Friday in early May. This spring also marks the SPCA’s “115th birthday and our 16th year as the first open-admission, no-kill shelter in the country,” says executive director Jim Bouderau.
Jim says proceeds raised at this year’s Hot Dog Day will count towards a $50,000 challenge match that’s running through the end of May. “We are not government-funded,” he says. “We rely on the generosity of this community, and their belief in our mission, to make the work we do possible.”
The menu this year will include Hofmann hot dogs, bratwursts, chicken spiedies, and vegan dogs donated by Wegmans.
“We have many accomplishments over the last fifteen years of which we are tremendously proud,” Jim told us last spring. “We have spayed or neutered more than 16,607 owned animals through our low-cost spay and neuter program; returned more than 3,200 lost animals to their owners; corralled hundreds of feral cats through our trap/neuter/release program; trained thousands of volunteers who work directly with our animals; enrolled 670 area youth in our summer Camp SPCA program; transported 613 animals from other animal shelters and rescue groups,” and lots more.
Jim says the summer months are usually the organization’s busiest, and bringing in funds now is crucial to the SPCA’s work. The SPCA does receive funds from local government budgets, but as payment for services provided to those municipalities, such as animal control and spay/neuter programs, not as grants or operational support. “Each and every year, we need to raise more than $950,000 (that’s almost one million dollars!) to make all this work possible,” he says. The now-annual match-maker grant is timed to coincide with the beginning of kitten and puppy season, “when entire litters of animals are surrendered to us for care and eventual adoption.”
For a couple of years recently, construction on the Ithaca Commons had moved the event around a bit, including a stop in Press Bay Alley. Lou is back in his familiar spot in Downtown Ithaca, right on the Ithaca Commons.
The SPCA reminds fans that their animals are visiting the Commons by special permit, and other pets, as always, are not allowed on the Commons. Hot Dog Day 2017 runs from 10am-4pm on Friday, May 5th.
Anyone who’d like to donate to the SPCA can make a secure online gift toward the challenge at spcaonline.com by clicking the “Make a Donation” link, can mail a check to the SPCA at 1640 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, New York 14850, call 607-257-1822, or visit either the shelter or the SPCA Annex at the Shops at Ithaca Mall. The SPCA also has an Amazon wish list of items they need.