“It was 1998 in Overland Park, KS, and I was taking my dog Mico to the veterinary clinic for a routine check up. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a young woman sitting in the open side door of a mini-van rocking a beautiful American Eskimo dog. I inquired with the girls in the clinic as to the situation. It turned out that her dog was very ill, and today was the day she was going to euthanize her. I immediately asked them why no one was out there supporting her. It was obvious that they were all terribly uncomfortable with this young woman´s grief, and knowing that I had a background in funeral service (human) they promptly asked me to help. Without hesitation, I went to her van, sat down beside her and began to ask her about her baby. It seemed like we were together hours, even though it was only a few minutes, before she gained the courage to walk into the clinic – the last walk that she would take with her special little friend.”
That encounter haunted me all day. When I picked Mico up at the end of the day, I asked the veterinarian what type of grief information they had given to this woman. The look that he gave me was my answer… they had nothing to give.
I immediately went home and pulled together some pieces from the human death-care industry that I thought would be helpful. The things that I put together seemed way too little, a very small gesture, for the very large emotional event that she had just endured.
But I knew – it is what I would have wanted someone to do for me.
– Coleen Ellis, Founder
Two Hearts Pet Loss Center
That day was a defining moment for Coleen, and the birth of her vision of how to best meet the needs of pet parents as they plan for, experience, and cope with the death of their beloved animal companions developed over the following few years. In 2004, the catalyst for bringing her vision to reality was the death of her then 14 year old beloved Schnauzer mix Mico. Within months, she founded Pet Angel Memorial Center, Inc.®, the United States first stand-alone pet´s-only funeral home, and with it a new definition for pet death-care was born. In short order, publications such as Kates-Boylston´s Pet Loss Insider deemed her the “United States´ most well known pet funeral director”.
Now a well recognized thought-leader on the subject of pet death-care by organizations such as the National Funeral Directors Association and the International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association, her work within the pet death care industry has begun to span the country as others who share in her passion for pets and their respectful treatment in death desire to open their own care centers. In response to consulting demand, Coleen founded Two Hearts Pet Loss Center, to guide those people who also wish to provide death care services in their communities, as well to be an educational resource in the pet grief discipline. Most recently, Coleen was awarded the first Death and Grief Studies Certification specializing in Pet Loss Companioning by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, at his Center For Loss in Ft. Collins, Colorado
Coleen is a native of Kansas where she graduated from Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing . She shares her home in Indianapolis, IN, with her husband and business partner, Chris Burke, their two two-legged children, Brian and Amy, and their three four-legged children, Mike the Dog, Ellie Mae, and Crisco.
Contact us if you´d like more information regarding Two Hearts Pet Loss Center´s educational services.