The nation is mourning the loss of a beautiful 8-year-old girl named Emma Mertens. Though she was only just 8, in her short time here she managed to inspire thousands of people with the love she had for animals. Emma loved all animals. Anyone who knew her, though, knew she had a very special place in her heart for dogs, which is how 20 K-9 police units wound up standing with her parents in solidarity at her funeral.
The young Wisconsin resident had been fighting a rare form of cancer.
She was diagnosed in January of this year. Tragically, however, she developed a brain tumor that was inoperable. Little Emma died in her mother’s arms on November 17th.
Shortly after receiving her diagnosis, friends and family who knew Emma’s passion for dogs started sending her emails of photos of their own dogs to cheer her up. Even though her heart was heavy, she couldn’t help but smile and giggle at all the adorable, silly pictures of dogs that came through. Her parents asked people to continue sending Emma photos. It wasn’t long before some of them went viral, and within a couple of months, Emma received over 100,000 pictures of people’s dogs.
“I think that says a lot about dog lovers, that they want to take care of more than just themselves,” Emma’s dad, Geoff Mertens, said.
Emma may have been sick, but she wouldn’t let it stop her from spreading good in the world.
She created Emma Loves Dogs, a foundation that raises money for K-9 police dogs and no-kill animal shelters. More and more people continued to send Emma heartwarming pictures of their pups to fill her page. They were also filling it with donations.
With so many of the posts going viral, Emma and her parents ended up going on Good Morning America. When local police stations saw it, they organized a very special surprise for Emma.
In March, a total of 40 police dogs along with their handlers/partners filled Emma’s street with their squad cars. Some were local from town, where others traveled for hours across the state for the special meeting. Every one of them lined up in the Wisconsin winter weather to meet the precious little girl with a heart of gold.
Emma was overjoyed to see the outpouring of love from both her community and from strangers all over the nation. She may have been young, but she was able to impact the hearts and lives of countless dogs and people.
“Through all of this battle, all Emma wanted to do was spread kindness and help animals,” said her family.
There is no doubt that Emma was more than able to make her dreams come true, and everyone wanted to let her know it.
Emma’s funeral was held on Saturday, November 23rd, and once again, the K-9 units banded together to show their solidarity to the girl that did so much for others.
“At the end of Emma’s service, at least 20 different Police K-9 units from all over the state escorted our family home. We were nervous to accept such an honor since we are technically not a police family and did not want to offend anyone who was, but these officers insisted. They made Emma an honorary member of their K9 Association back in August. These men and women gave up most of their day off (Saturday) to be there for us and ensure that we got home safely. It was an overwhelming honor. A very touching, quiet ride home that Emma would have loved. To all the Police K9 Handlers and their K9s, Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are all #TeamEmma,” the family captioned a post of some pictures of the funeral procession.
The service was live-streamed for all those who supported Emma’s work. The world was robbed of an inspiring and precious soul too soon, but thankfully, her legacy lives on in every single dog that her foundation helps. If you would like to make a donation in honor of Emma, you can do so here.
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