Emmylou Harris is no stranger to activism. After traveling to Cambodia and Vietnam in 1997 with Veterans For America president Bobby Muller—and seeing firsthand the devastation caused by mines in Southeast Asia—the 12-time Grammy winner launched the first Concert for a Landmine Free World. Held in Washington, D.C., the event featured Harris, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle. A series of subsequent concerts—as well as proceeds from the Gram Parsons tribute album she put together, The Return of the Grievous Angel—helped fund the VFA’s Nobel Prize-winning work. “We know chemical weapons might help in winning a war, but we decided that the price of chemical weapons is too high,” she told the Irish Independent in 2002. “Landmines need to be put in the same category. We have a higher standard of behavior in the world.”
Lately, however, her attention has turned elsewhere. “I’ve gotten very involved in dog rescue,” she says from her home in Nashville, “which I’m doing on a very local, homespun level here. That’s become kind of an increasing passion, and is consuming a lot of my time.”
In 2002, Harris built Bonaparte’s Retreat, a dog shelter in her backyard that rescues dogs scheduled for euthanasia at the Metro Nashville Animal Control. She’s found homes for several of the adopted dogs among friends and fans, and currently has five more available at Emmylou.net. The namesake Bonaparte was rescued from the Nashville Humane Association in 1991, and toured with Harris for years before his death. Now, two more rescued dogs, Keeta and Bella, accompany her on the tour bus. After Hurricane Katrina, Harris set up The Keeta Fund in support of the Humane Society’s disaster program for dislocated animals. “Animals can teach us how to be better humans,” she says. “They’ve certainly taught me that.”
For more information, visit Emmylou.net or hsus.org/keetafund.