Detroit millionaire calls on donors to fund funeral of girl mauled by dogs

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — A GoFundMe for 9-year-old Emma Hernandez, who was fatally mauled Monday by three dogs, surpassed its goal of $25,000 in a matter of minutes. 

Emma's funeral was paid for after Detroit millionaire Bill Pulte tweeted a call to action Tuesday to his online followers whom he calls "teammates" to raise money for Emma's ' funeral after she was mauled by three pit bulls Monday.

Bill Pulte's pledge to give away $100,000 has gone viral.

"If we don't raise enough money for this 9-year-old, who was killed by dogs in Detroit, I will personally pay for her funeral," Pulte tweeted.

Besides being CEO of Pulte Capital and Blight Authority, Pulte is well-known as a philanthropist and as the grandson of billionaire William Pulte, founder of the PulteGroup, one of the largest home construction and real estate development companies in the country. 

► More: Bill Pulte discovers the key to going viral: free money

"I saw the news and thought, we have to take care of this family," Pulte told The Detroit News. "I'm sure ... they want help. A tweet was the least I could do."

Detroit police Chief James Craig it is a dog owner's responsibility to secure their animal and if they can't, they "should not have the animal."

"This should not have happened," Craig said. "How many more times? We hear these stories about some of these pit bulls. I think of an image of postal employees who lost a limb ... here we are sitting here talking about a child and a family."

Emma was riding her bike in an alley near Central and Smart, on the city's west side, when she was attacked. Neighbors tried to stop the help, throwing bricks and firing gunshots, police said.

She died from multiple injuries, the medical examiner found. 

The owner of three dogs was in custody, and the dogs were in the possession of Detroit Animal Care and Control.

The three dogs are likely to be euthanized due to the incident, officials said.

Pulte said the incident was too tragic to overlook.

"This is particularly shocking, but unfortunately, far too often young people have these situations, and no one should have to bury their child," he said.

Pulte said he was impressed and proud to see the reaction online.

"My teammates empathized and it's been a compounding of love," he said. "It can never help their pain, but it will help the burden."

More than 900 donors contributed to the funeral services for Emma, who was described by her family as "a wonderful child who touched the lives of those around her."

Relatives said Emma was dedicated to her schoolwork, and she liked playing and enjoying life with her family.

"Quick to get a head start on schoolwork. She was such a smart and silly girl," the family said. "(Emma) loved to be outdoors and play with her cousins. A beautiful soul inside and out."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_