HARTLAND — The 8-year-old girl from Hartland who captivated the hearts of thousands with her love of dogs passed away, according to the "Emma Loves Dogs" Facebook page.
Emma Mertens passed away at home on Sunday surrounded by her parents, according to the Facebook post. She was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor in January after showing some signs of the flu.
"Unfortunately Emma wasn't feeling well. We went to the hospital for some IV fluids and quickly were told that it's much more serious than the flu,"parents Tammi and Geoff Mertens told TODAY'S TMJ4 in Feburary.
"They saw a mass, had an MRI and determined the next day that mass was a DIPG," Geoff said.
Her family originally asked for people to send pictures and letters from their dogs to put a smile on Emma's face. That request went viral, turning into an outpouring of support after she received thousands notes.
"We're receiving about 3,000 emails an hour," said Geoff during a previous interview. "It's beyond overwhelming."
He estimated that they've received more than 100,000 pictures of pups from around the world.
A foundation was recently established in the girl's name to provide financial assistance to individuals and organizations that share Emma’s passion for helping animals. For more information on the foundation, click here.