Fitchburg K-9 team remembers Wisconsin girl who inspired others through love of dogs

Fitchburg K-9 team remembers Wisconsin girl who inspired others through love of dogs
Emma Mertens is battling an inoperable brain tumor which has turned into an outpouring of support from all over the world.

A Fitchburg K-9 team is remembering a little girl with a passion for animals and helping others.

Officer John Parker and K-9 Drago attended the memorial service for Emma Mertens, an 8-year-old from Hartland who inspired others around the world through her love for dogs. She passed away last week, months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

Everyone who attended Emma’s service was asked to wear a shade of blue and leave their thumbprint on a special canvas.

“Unexpectedly, and exactly how Emma would want, a paw print was placed. We didn’t realize it until we got home and saw the picture of one of her all time favorite K-9s, Drago, placing his paw next to the heart,” Emma’s family wrote on Facebook.

Emma was loved and supported by people from around the world thanks to an idea by her friends and family. They asked people to send in photos and well wishes as though they were penned by their dogs, as a way to bring the 8-year-old comfort.

The project went global days after it was launched, with tens of thousands of letters being sent to Emma. People from more than 70 countries participated. A group of K-9 officers and handlers from around Wisconsin also spent time with Emma.

As a way to honor her legacy, Emma’s family created the Emma Loves Dogs Foundation. The group raises money to support organizations that share the girl’s passion for helping animals, like K-9 units and no-kill animal shelters.

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