Major Changes Being Undertaken in the Pet Funeral Industry

Major Changes Being Undertaken in the Pet Funeral Industry


Mico, the 14-year-old dog of Coleen A. Ellis, had lung cancer and her owner knew this was going to be her last trip to the vet. As Ellis watched the vet put the body of the terrier schnauzer into a garbage bag, Ellis said, “I couldn’t just walk out of there with a leash and a collar.”

Mico’s body was instead brought home by Ellis.

A local funeral home agreed to have Mico cremated, but as Ellis waited in the chapel, she was told that they could not turn on the lights because there is an ongoing service down the hall for “a real death.”

Ellis vowed to implement changes. In 2004, roughly one year later, Ellis opened in Indianapolis what is considered to be America’s first stand-alone pet funeral home.

Today, there are more than 750 pet funeral homes, as well as pet crematories and cemeteries all across the nation. In fact, there are now many human funeral homes that are looking at ways to offer services for pets that died.

Ellis has since then sold her mortuary and now manages Two Hearts Pet Loss Center, a facility that helps people grieve the loss of the pets by arranging memorial services for their pets.

In 2009, Ellis also helped establish the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance as a working group of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. As the industry thrived, so did the alliance. This week, it will be holding its second annual conference in Las Vegas.

The goals of the group are simple, that is, to set and maintain standards for the services related to pet deaths. These include funerals, memorials and cremations or burials.