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New England's Only Kitten Intensive Care Unit Opens For New Season

Hundreds of sick or injured stray kittens will be treated this summer at New England’s only kitten intensive care unit.  When healthy, the kittens will be put up for adoption. 

   The orphaned  kittens, some feral, others just abandoned by owners that can’t take care of them, are provided medical treatment, fluid, nourishment, a warm place to sleep, and socialization with people at Nick’s Nursery, located at the Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    Much of the work of getting the kittens on the road to recovery and eventually to the humane society’s cat adoption center is done by volunteers like Shana Bartlett.

    One of the kittens she is taking care of, who the staff has named Emilia, was not gaining weight. So, Bartlett explained the kitten is given a high calorie substance and " it is starting to work."

    The kitten clinic operates seasonally from summer into the fall as cats’ breeding cycles peak.

    Since it opened in 2014, the number of patients has increased each year, according to Carmine DiCenso, Dakin’s executive director.

    " Through this program we are able to save kittens lives that we would not have been able to in the past," said DiCenso.

            Dakin staff and volunteers Thursday honored the benefactors of the clinic.

     Jan and Bernadette Piepul made the initial donation to help create Nick’s Nursery and they’ve provided annual matching funds.

    "We're cat lovers," said Jan Piepul.

    He said orphaned newborn kittens are the most vulnerable animals a shelter cares for.

   " We are fortunate to have an organization like Dakin in our area. The staff and volunteers are so passionate about what they do, how can you not give," said Piepul.

    The clinic, formally called “The Nicholas J. Piepul Kitten Nursery,” is named for the eight-week-old kitten the Piepuls saw recovering in a shelter after it had been set on fire on a street in Springfield.  Bernadette Piepul said they adopted the kitten and Nicholas is now a healthy 9-year old cat.

    "And so when the idea came up for the kitten nursery we said 'that's perfect because there is nothing like that in New England'," said Bernadette Piepul.

    Dakin has set a goal to raise $40,000 to support the clinic this season. It is projected the nursery will care for nearly 300 kittens this year.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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