Dog-loving Wisconsin girl who went viral dies after battle with brain tumor

HARTLAND, Wis. (WITI) – An 8-year-old Wisconsin girl battling a rare brain tumor died on Sunday, according to a post on the "Emma Loves Dogs" Facebook page.

Local TV news station WITI covered Emma Mertens' story in February after her family requested letters and photos of dogs to raise the young girl's spirits after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She received more than 75,000 letters from 50 countries.

In March, she received an extra special surprise from over 35 K-9 teams from around the state of Wisconsin.

In late August, in honor of her 8th birthday, her parents announced the launch of the Emma Loves Dogs Foundation, with a mission of providing "financial assistance to organizations that share Emma’s passion for helping animals, such as police K-9 units and no-kill animal shelters."

A neighbor posted this statement on Emma's passing:

“Emma has earned her angel wings. We knew this time was coming but nothing could prepare us for this loss. We are still in disbelief that she was born on this earth to become an angel so soon but in her short time on this earth she changed lives. She taught us to love deeply, live each moment to its fullest, and most importantly be kind. What a beautiful difference one single life made. I’m honored to call her our chosen family and will forever be broken until we meet again on the other side. Rest In Peace sweet girl.”

The Mertens offered this information about her deadly disease:

"Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a type of tumor that starts in the brain stem, the part of the brain just above the back of the neck and connected to the spine. The brain stem controls breathing, heart rate and the nerves and muscles that help us see, hear, walk, talk and eat. Unfortunately, the survival rate for DIPG remains very low. At this time there is no cure."

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Emma Loves Dogs Foundation.