Selah man lives in dog kennel to raise money for the YWCA of Yakima

SELAH, Wash. — A Selah man has taken a unique approach to fundraising for the YWCA of Yakima, which provides advocacy and services for survivors of domestic violence.

For three days, Brian Harris has lived in a dog kennel in front of his Selah car dealership, accepting donations in the sweltering heat of summer — all in honor of one young woman.

“My daughter, Emily, lost her life to domestic violence in January,” Harris said.

Emily Harris, 30, was killed by her husband Jan. 24 in their Selah home, just hours before he took his own life. The killing rocked the community and gave rise to an ongoing conversation about domestic abuse.

Since then, her loved ones have raised more than $100,000 for the YWCA of Yakima with the #LiveLikeEmily campaign, including selling t-shirts and starting the viral #EmilyShuffleChallenge.

“Their major fundraiser this year … got cancelled because of COVID-19, so they really could use the money right now,” Harris said.

Along with living in the dog kennel, Harris has pledged to kiss a pig; as of Wednesday night, Harris had raised more than $34,000.

“The kiss the pig deal is something totally out of the blue,” Harris said. “I was trying to come up with something goofy that people would love to see me do.”

Harris will continue to live in the dog kennel and accept donations through Thursday morning.

In addition to helping the YWCA of Yakima, Harris said he hopes that the fundraisers will help keep Emily’s memory alive.

“She’s my daughter; I love her,” Harris said.  “I don’t want people to forget her, I don’t want to forget her, so its nice to have people remember her and give donations.”

Emily’s friends and family remember her as a kind, loving, hardworking person, who put others first and was always willing to help.

“When you were in a place and you were alone, Emily would say, ‘Hi, my name is Emily. What’s your name? Looks like you’re alone. Why don’t you come sit with us?'” Harris said. “She took the time to make you welcome.”

Harris said he also hopes speaking about what happened to his daughter will help other women affected by domestic violence.

“We’ve had at least 11 ladies we know of step away from a bad relationship,” Harris said. “That’s what I want the ladies to know: get out of a bad relationship because it’s not worth it and I don’t want to see it result in the end of their life.”

Harris said the best part of doing this fundraiser has been getting to talk about his daughter with people who knew and loved her, as well as people who never had the chance to meet her.

Emily is in heaven now, which is a way better place than we’re at,” Harris said. “And I will see her again some day, I hope. I know she’ll be there. I hope I am.”