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SPRINGFIELD — Tiffany Appleton has been named president of the board of directors at Dakin Humane Society in Springfield. Appleton joined the board in 2017 and served as its secretary from 2020–2022.

She is currently the associate director employer relations at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a position she has held for the past two years. Prior to that, she Appleton was a director, accounting and finance division at Johnson & Hill Staffing Services in West Springfield from 2016-2020.

“I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my pets,” she said. “They provide so much value to my life and I joined Dakin initially as a volunteer to support that amazing human-animal bond. I quickly fell in love with Dakin and all the service offerings beyond adoption that further the mission of keeping people and their pets happy, healthy, and together. I can’t wait to see all the good we can do for the community in the future.”

Appleton earned both a master of Education, Science Education, and a bachelor of Science, Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She previously served as a board member at the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley from 2018-2020.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Dakin Humane Society is currently caring for a large number of kittens at this time, and more are expected to arrive in need of urgent care for respiratory infections, digestive issues, and dehydration.

In response, the organization is seeking foster volunteers who are comfortable giving kittens hydrating fluids under their skin, as well as giving oral and eye medications regularly. Fosters will also need to track their kitten’s weight at least once per day. Dakin’s staff will provide training for administering fluids and medication. The timespan for foster care varies for each kitten based on their needs, but it typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months.

People interested in becoming a foster caregiver for sick kittens in need of medical care should visit www.dakinhumane.org/foster-a-dakin-animal.html and follow the steps to submit an application. Dakin is not placing healthy kittens in foster homes at this time.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Dakin Humane Society is offering Plush Pals — stuffed dogs and cats — as a way of leveraging the strength of its animal-loving community to help children during these difficult times when contact and hugs have been minimized due to COVID-19.

Individuals can request their own Plush Pal — or can select a ‘get one, give one’ option while donating online — which includes a Plush Pal for themselves and another to be sent to a child at Square One. The Springfield-based nonprofit organization provides support services and family-friendly education for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children throughout the region.

The Plush Pals stand eight inches high and are mailed out with a ‘hug certificate’ as well as a photo of an animal who was cared for at Dakin Humane Society. They can be requested when donating online at bit.ly/PlushPals.

“We began offering Plush Pals during the holiday season, and they are still available,” explained Dakin’s Director of Development and Marketing Stacey Price. “Many people, including children, are hurting right now. They can’t be with their friends, some do not have animals at home, and we want them to be able to connect with a loved one — in this case, a Plush Pal — and let them know that someone is thinking about them.

“This effort gives individuals the option to provide a Plush Pal to the children at Square One,” she added. “Some of us have our pets to keep us company throughout the pandemic, but we wanted to do something for those who want that kind of companionship. Plush Pals give them something to cuddle and love.”

Square One was chosen as the recipient of this effort because of its longstanding commitment to helping children in the Pioneer Valley, Price noted. “Their dedication to families, especially in the face of this pandemic, is remarkable, and given Dakin’s mission to help animals and the people who love them, we thought this would be a opportunity to bring joy to children by giving them a special pet of their own.”

Green Business

Pet Project

Carmine DiCenso

Carmine DiCenso stands by the solar installation on the roof of Dakin’s facility in Springfield.

Carmine DiCenso says there’s a changed atmosphere at the Dakin Humane Society facilities in Springfield and Leverett these days — in many different respects.

Indeed, due to comprehensive spaying and neutering programs, overpopulation among canines and felines is far less of a problem than it was even a few years ago, and, as a result, there are, generally speaking, fewer animals up for adoption in these centers.

Meanwhile, societal changes have made adoption a more accepted and therefore more popular practice. “Culturally, everyone wants to rescue a pet now,” said DiCenso, Dakin’s executive director, adding that, as a result, many of the pets that wind up in the adoption centers are not there for long stays.

Those that are tend to be older and often have physical and/or behavioral-health issues and thus need more time at the shelter to become ready for adoption, said DiCenso. “We’re spending more time and resources to rehab animals, and that’s a bigger challenge,” he explained, adding that the agency is shifting its focus to work with animals in the community — by providing food, vaccinations, and other necessities — with the goal of keeping them out of shelters.

But these are not the only changes to the environment at Dakin.

The others involve energy-efficiency, and while many cannot be seen (such as the solar installations on the roofs) or heard, they are important developments in Dakin’s ability to carry out its broad mission.

That’s made clear by current numbers and those that DiCenso is projecting for a few years out. He expects that, when the latest round of planned improvements — efforts to better seal skylights and windows to improve efficiency and replacement of a 21-year-old, very inefficient inefficient chiller — are implemented, the nonprofit agency will see annual energy savings approaching $50,000 at the Springfield site. In six to 10 years, he projects that the number will be closer to $200,000.

“And that money would be diverted right into director programming,” he explained, “and meeting the needs of our animals who need more from us — here in the shelter and out in the community.”

Backing up a bit, DiCenso said Dakin has undertaken a number of significant steps to become more energy-efficient over the past few years, many in what amounts to a partnership with Eversource, largely because it needed to, especially in Springfield.

The 47,000-square-foot facility, formerly home to the MSPCA, was built just over 20 years ago, a different era when it comes to energy efficiency, said DiCenso, adding that discussions about doing something with a building that had become a large drain on the budget began years ago.

And with a two-year, $95,000, no-interest loan from Eversource as part of the utility’s small-business retrofit program (see related story, page 18), Dakin has addressed many of these glaring needs. Indeed, starting in late 2016, the nonprofit has undertaken several initiatives, including:

• Lighting conversions. Dakin switched from fluorescent to LED lighting in many areas of the Springfield building. The parking-lot lights, formerly multi-vapor models, have also been converted to LED. Meanwhile, occupancy-sensor switches were installed in several rooms, replacing traditional on/off switches that are often left on long after people have left the room.

• An HVAC upgrade, specifically adding a dedicated domestic hot-water system that uses just the right amount of energy needed to have hot water on tap. Previously, Dakin relied on large boilers to heat even the smallest amounts of hot water.

• Variable-frequency drives. As part of the HVAC upgrade, Dakin added these drives to achieve more scalability in controlling indoor climate, said DiCenso, adding that it also installed carbon-dioxide detectors to control the amount of outside air (hot or cold) coming into the building to control costs.

“The fans were either on or off, and it took a tremendous amount of energy for them to cycle up and turn on fully, and that’s a waste of energy,” he explained. “What we have now are variable drives, which slowly build up to speed and only bring them to the level you need; instead of going from zero to 100 every time you turn them on, if they only need 25% of the energy, that’s what they’ll turn on to.”

As for the solar installations, installed in 2018, they were made possible by a gift from area residents Brian Adams and Morey Phippen, who have funded solar projects for a number of nonprofits in the area, said DiCenso, adding that, through these installations, both facilities are realizing substantial savings on their electric bills, especially the Leverett site.

“It will take a few years to really see those cost savings,” he said. “But we’ll get a bigger bang for our buck in Leverett because it’s a smaller building and the solar installation will be able to take more of the load; we do think our energy costs will drop 50%.”

Between the two buildings, as he noted, the overall savings will likely exceed $200,000, a budgetary windfall, if you will, that will be needed in the years to come.

That’s because, while the landscape has changed, overpopulation is no longer a real issue, and rescuing animals has become more popular, there are still many needs to be met when it comes to that constituency.

Because it now far more energy-efficient, Dakin will be better able to meet them.

— George O’Brien

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