An 8-year-old girl from Wisconsin who captured the hearts of humans and their furry friends has passed away.
Emma Mertens first made headlines back in February, when her family asked the internet to send letters of encouragement from dogs to support her as she was treated for an inoperable brain tumor.
The family said they saw her digital inbox and physical post office box explode with messages after her request went viral.
From Basset Hounds to Pomeranians, the little girl was showered with canine (and human) support in her time of need.
Sadly, Emma died this week in her parents’ arms.
“She fought so hard but it was time to go home and leave the pain behind,” her family wrote on their Facebook page. “In her final hours, we told her how many people love her and that it was ok to go. We will miss her dearly.”
They are asking that in lieu of gifts and flowers, people donate to her foundation to spread kindness and help animals.
On the Team Emma Facebook page, people have been posting messages of support for the Mertens family with photos of their dogs.
“I'm crying tears for a little girl I've not met, but yet feel I know her through the kindness she has shown, her strength, courage and of course, her love of dogs,” Lisa Roedig wrote. “Emma has been an inspiration to me and to so many others around the world. She has done more in her 8 years, than some people do in a lifetime.”
“I am so heartbroken for your family. Emma is now free to play with all the dogs,” Beverly Petermann wrote. “Bless her heart and her spirit.”