She may lose all of her hair, but Rebecca Rosales, owner of no-kill cat shelter Sunny’s Legacy in Burlington, is willing to make that sacrifice if it will help her save more cats.
Sunny’s Legacy will be holding a fundraising event at Burlington Eagles #150, 2727 Mount Pleasant St., from noon-6 pm Saturday.
Rosales will be selling authentic Mexican cuisine (including tamale plates, street taco plates, cups of elote, sides of rice, single tacos and single tamales) and tres leches cakes for dessert.
Raffles and a 50/50 contest, information on low-cost spay and neuter clinics, and prepaid orders for exclusive Sunny’s Legacy T-shirts will also be part of the event.
There will not be any cats at the fundraiser, but the big attraction is, if Sunny’s Legacy is able to raise $50,000, Rosales will shave her head. The ultimate goal is to help keep the shelter on its feet and with the resources it needs to continue carrying out its mission.
“I needed a bigger place, with more adequate space, and electricity, heat, air conditioning,” Rosales said. “I needed just a better facility. And it’s still overwhelming. After almost five years of doing this, (the situation with area cats) is getting worse, not better. With the amount of kittens or injured cats, it is not getting any better .”
More:‘I don’t want to give up on them’: How Sunny’s Legacy is helping Burlington’s stray cats
Since 2017, Rosales has been working to care for area stray and surrendered cats. In February, Sunny’s Legacy officially became licensed by the state as a no-kill shelter and continues to work to provide shelter, health care and new homes for the cats Rosales rescues.
Rosales has two sheds on her property: one to provide shelter and safety to feral cats that are either not ready to be adopted or that may never find the right family, and another to shelter housebroken cats that are ready to be adopted.
But caring for the felines is not cheap. By Rosales’ estimates, the shelter spends an $3,000 a month on food, supplies, housing expenses and medical care.
Sunny’s Legacy runs almost entirely on cash and supply donations, aluminum can recycling (also donated), and Rosales and her family’s personal finances.
To help care for more cats, Sunny’s Legacy is getting ready to open a shelter and adoption center in Morning Sun. Rosales declined to give out the location or opening date of the new facility, but said she will continue living in Burlington and that the new location will allow her to shelter and care for more cats.
“I’ll be able to hold between 50 and 70 cats, as opposed to the 15 I can hold down here,” she said.
More:New partnership between Des Moines County Humane Society, Sunny’s Legacy to help provide care and adoptions for area stray cats
Rosales said the new facility will include a playroom where potential adopters can interact with the cats, as well as hosting community events.
“I plan on doing a lot of fun things up there to help raise money to keep the shelter going,” Rosales said.
Rosales said she plans on holding a grand opening event once the new shelter is up and running.
In April, Sunny’s Legacy announced a partnership with the Des Moines County Humane Society in which it will work to house and care for sick and injured cats, and kittens that still need to be bottle-fed, from the Humane Society. The Humane Society agreed to take in Sunny’s Legacy’s cats that are currently ready for adoption, dependent upon the capacity of each shelter.
Rosales said that partnership is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
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But Rosales said it has been hard adopting out some of the cats, especially with the application process Sunny’s Legacy requires in order for Rosales to verify that a potential adopter is capable of caring for a cat and can provide a suitable home.
“I’ve taken in many cats and people see the pictures on Facebook and say, ‘Oh, we want them!’ And I’ll tell them to fill out an application and some of them think they can just take a cat,'” Rosales said. “But we need them to fill out the application because that’s required by law.
“I understand that it would be just a lot easier just to hand them out to anybody,” she added. “I could find homes all-day-long for them. But I’ve put so much time, sweat and tears into these cats that I want to make sure they go to the best home. They’ve already had a rough life. “
Those unable to attend Saturday’s fundraiser can still help Sunny’s Legacy by donating aluminum cans that Rosales will trade cash for recycling. Those who wish to donate can are asked to contact Sunny’s Legacy through its Facebook page for instructions.
Rosales said she is no longer taking bottle donations.
“The other day I almost got stuck with a hypodermic needle and I stopped taking bottles,” she explained. “It’s just a big, old mess.”
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Rosales told The Hawk Eye she has no qualms about the potential that she may have to shave her head Saturday.
“It’s the most extreme thing I’ll do to prove how much these animals need this,” she said. “And if I can go to that extreme, other people, I feel, can give just a little.”
Brad Vidmar covers public safety and education for The Hawk Eye and can be reached via email at [email protected]