Annual Pet Loss Profession Survey Results

PLPA members can download the results of the Pet Loss Profession Survey below.

PLPA Mission Statement


The Pet Loss Professionals Alliance is committed to being an educational resource to its members. The membership, including pet loss suppliers and pet death care facility operators, will be dedicated to the respectful and dignified treatment of those pets entrusted to us. We will do this through the creation of programs to profitably meet the changing needs of the pet death care industry and our process partners in the areas of cemeteries, crematories and pet loss facilities, as well as the creation of standards to willfully meet our customers expectations.

The PLPA’s commitment to its membership is to assist in:

  • Foster positive consumer relationships by promoting high ethical standards

  • Encourage our members to promote the dignified and respectful care of the pet bodies

  • Promote cemeteries, crematories and memorial centers as respectful resting areas and as a place of lasting tribute to the memories of our beloved pets

  • Provide services, products and educational opportunities with an emphasis on those resources that members cannot as effectively provide for themselves.

  • Be proactive in leadership on legislative, regulatory and legal issues

  • Create mutually beneficial relationships with state, regional, international and allied associations

  • Provide members the opportunity for growth and recognition through participation in the ICCFA

Obligations of Membership in PLPA

Members of the PLPA recognize that we have special obligations to the pets, families and other businesses that we serve. As guardians of pets in death, we pledge:

  • To care for the remains of those entrusted to us with dignity, respect and professional skill, whether at a clinic, funeral home, crematory or cemetery

  • To honor the wishes of the family and to serve all families with respect, understanding and confidentiality

  • To protect and preserve all interment sites and relevant historical data entrusted to us

  • To be guided by the spirit and letter of all applicable laws and regulations set by governing bodies with jurisdiction over our activities in the ownership, management and operation of a funeral home, crematory, cemetery or related endeavor

  • To be an educational resource and guide in standards relating to final pet death care options for our client families as well as our process partners

Click here to visit the Discussion Forum to comment on the Mission and Objectives.


The PLPA Blog

BioUrn4Pets Creates a "Circle of Life" Memorial

BioUrn4Pets's picture

Maka joined our family when she was an 8-week old puppy. As newlyweds, we doted on Maka and considered her our "baby". Maka rode "shotgun" in my husband's work truck, and was always the center of attention any time they stopped to stretch their legs. When our son was born, Maka welcomed him into the family and considered him her baby too! The two were inseparable, and their bond was delightful to watch. As our son learned to walk, Maka was by his side every step, often losing handfuls of fur as he would stumble and fall. She never minded, and the two soon went on adventures together running side-by-side, Sadly, Maka crossed the Rainbow Bridge when our son was about 6 years old. We were all devastated by her loss, but not as much as our son. For years, he couldn't walk past her urn in the living room without making a comment about how much he missed her, regardless of the fact that we had a houseful of dogs. His bond with Maka was so strong, he just couldn't let go of the pain of losing her... that is, until I created BioUrn!

In 2013, I brought BioUrn to market as a pet memorial, and we filmed the preparation and planting of our first BioUrn using Maka's ashes. I knew I had a unique & extraordinary product, but what I didn't realize was the impact BioUrn had on children who were grieving the loss of their family pet. Once Maka's BioUrn began to sprout a seedling, our son would make a direct route to her tree, fussing over it and noting its growth with a big smile on his face. What was once a sad, mournful statement about missing her became a joyful acknowledgement of her growing presence in our garden and even more important was the renewed joy in our hearts.

Veterinary professionals and parents agree that the loss of a family pet can be emotionally devastating, especially for children who could be experiencing loss for the first time. BioUrn helps to create a "Circle of Life" experience, which is extremely helpful when coping with the loss of a family pet. Creating new life with their pets ashes, allows pet lovers to deal with the pain of their loss, and helps them through the bonding process when a new pet enters the family. BioUrn was created by a pet lover, for pet lovers and is offered by My Eternal Family Tree, a veteran owned, family run business. Handmade in USA BioUrn will grow your chosen tree, and is good for the planet, and for the people who love it. Now available for people and pets, we welcome you to visit our website ,browse our tree selection, and ask yourself, "What tree would I be?"

Preserving the clothing memories of the deceased

Project Repat makes it easy to preserve t-shirts and clothing by turning it into a t-shirt quilt. Since 2012, Project Repat has sold more than 12,000 quilts, many to familiy members who have recently lost a loved one. One of the most difficult decisions for a family member is to decide what to do with the clothing that the deceased has left behind. Too often, that clothing remains in the closet because the loved one can't bear to get rid of the memories. Clothing is very personal - our t-shirts often carry our beliefs, our culture, and our accomplishments. Project Repat has found a way to make this service affordable for everyone, with prices between 70 and 200 dollars. 

We've heard wonderful stories from customers around the country who have taken advantage of preserving their loved one's clothing memories. We are proud to be providing such a meaningful and personal service to those who need it, and see our service as a natural and helpful part of the grieving process. 

We've kept a blog of memorable stories from our customers, which can be seen here. We are interested in offering this service to as many people as possible, and are interested in speaking with funeral home directors who can offer this service to their clients. Please contact for more information. 

A t-shirt quilt from Project Repat

PLPA Co-Chair responds to tragedy in Oklahoma

Earlier today, PLPA Co-Chair Coleen Ellis, CPLP, sent a letter to two reporters in Tulsa, OK, who have been covering the tragic circumstances at Pets at Peace crematory in the metro area. Here is what it said:

Dear Ashlei King/Kendrick Marshall,

Thank you for the reporting that you have done on the tragedy in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, regarding the pets that did not receive their proper cremation from Pets at Peace.

The Pet Loss Professionals Alliance (PLPA) is an organization that is striving to increase the standards of business practices within the pet death care profession in an effort to prevent situations like this from occurring.

One way the PLPA is doing this is by increasing the awareness of the business practices within our profession. The PLPA released standardized model definitions and ethical organizational practices two years ago. The PLPA continues to make progress in this area, making sure that pet death care providers are aware of best practices. Through education and awareness, the PLPA has a mission of making sure pet parents and their beloved pets are represented by caring and ethical pet death care providers and not victims of these horrific practices.

Enclosed you will find PLPA’s a sampling of our model business standards and practices. In particular, we have enclosed:

Cremation Authorization and Disposition Form (this form should be completed for each pet, authorizing the specific type of cremation of the pet and the statistical information on that particular pet).
Definitions & Standards for the Cremation of Companion Animals  (the definitions include the various types of pet cremations that occur across the country).
It is our intent to continue to educate professionals as well as pet parents on the acceptable business practices for the final care of a pet's remains. Please let us know if there is additional information that we might provide to you in regards to our organization or this tragedy.

Coleen Ellis
PLPA Co-Chair

Children's Book about Grief

  I am so excited to announce that I have finished writing my new children's book, Sadie & Sammy: A Tail of Love, Loss, and Friendship.  This book is based on my experiences at my cemetery with my certified bereavement therapy dog, Sadie.  We will be at the convention today and tomorrow with copies of the book!  Stop by and say hello to Sadie!  Sadie is attending the convention with me to accept the KIP Award in Best Practice for our work with her! See you all there!

KIP Award!

Hi everyone! My name is Sadie! I work at Trinity Memorial Gardens and Friendship Pet Memorial Park in Maryland.  I am so excited to be traveling to Tampa tomorrow to receive the KIP Award in Best Practices! This will be my first plane trip and I'm excited to be sitting in the first class cabin! Please look for me at the convention and stop to say Hi! I will also be bringing copies of my new children's book, "Sadie & Sammy: A Tail of Love, Loss, and Friendship." I really love working with families and especially children. My book is focused on helping children deal with grief and is based on my experiences and the friendships I have formed with families and children in my work at Trinity Memorial Gardens. This book will help children understand grief and bring a smile to the faces of children and adults alike!

Grieving the loss of a family pet

beyondtherainbow's picture

Navigating grief is never easy. And there's no "right way" to do it.  But a good way to start walking down the recovery path is to write about your faithful friend.  It doesn't have to be neat and pretty, just take out a sheet of paper and start jotting down random thoughts of what your friend was and is to you.  Things he did, where he loved to sleep, things that made you laugh.  After a bit, the tears will turn to laughter, and then the healing can begin.  

But you'll be 10 minutes from feeling normal, for a long time. It's been 2 months since our beloved Peeve crossed over to the Bridge, and just yesterday, I turned around and looked to make sure he wasn't trying to run out the back door.  His food bowl still sits on the corner of my desk, where he always ate.  It is okay to keep physical reminders of your baby around.  You will look at them and smile, remembering a special time.    

This was your baby, and you've suffered a death...just like any other death in  your family.  And it just takes time for that pain in your gut to subside.  But it will, I promise.  Just keep talking, and writing, about your sweet baby, and time will heal...I promise.

Until then, send bubble kisses to heaven, plant a memorial garden, and know that the love you gave, and the love that you received, will never die.   

Pet Parents Sue for Lack of Communication In the Veterinary Clinic

Coleen.Ellis's picture

Dr. Marty Becker just posted this article on his FaceBook page,... I found it incredibly compelling and wanted to share it with you - as this article should be reproduced and carried in your briefcase.  Drop this off at ALL of your clinics for supporting information on WHY it's so important to not only communicate clearly with families on their medical plan - but also when it comes to their final death care arrangements.  The time is now to "kick it up a notch" for your educational efforts with the clinics on proper death care processes. 

Here's the article in it's entirety, taken from the website

Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Words Can Cost Your License

A 10-year-old Yorkie died unexpectedly after receiving the third mitotane (Lysodren, tablet you dispensed to treat her Cushing’s disease. You know that either you or your room technician told the client about the possible risks and complications of this treatment because “someone always does.”

Now you are being investigated by the state veterinary medical board, your license is at stake, and Ms. Loveherpet is threatening a lawsuit for $100,000 in damages for emotional distress for the loss of her best friend “Gigi.”

Even worse, she’s threatening to trash your practice by starting a website to determine how many other pets you have “killed.” You couldn’t sleep last night because all you could think about were the 14 years of your life you’ve spent building a practice that is now at risk because of a simple breakdown in communication.

According to Laura Downes, executive director of the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medicine, unprofessional conduct lawsuits often boil down to charges of negligence or issues with communication. She says, “It is not uncommon for investigations to indicate that the standards of medical care have been met but documentation of the communications by the veterinary team was inadequate. If the pet’s condition deteriorates or the pet dies while under veterinary care, clients often assume that substandard care was provided. Excellent communication at the beginning and throughout treatment can assuage misunderstandings later should the pet not respond favorably to treatment.” Complaints from clients can result in hefty fines, mandatory continuing education, and even license suspension.

Facing the Facts
Many veterinarians will face situations like this at some point in their careers. Downes estimates that 75% to 80% of client complaints to state boards are the result of breakdowns in communication. Poor listening skills are cited in a large percentage of medical negligence cases as one of the main reasons why individuals take legal action against health care professionals.1

One of the main issues in these cases stems from obtaining educated owner consents. Without discussing diseases in lay person’s terms and documenting communications in patients’ records, clients can easily come back and say, “I didn’t realize this procedure required so many follow-up visits and care or had so many possible adverse effects, or I never would have agreed to it.” For this reason, the use of clear communications as well as written, signed consent forms that educate clients about the course of treatment and risks associated with various procedures helps minimize communication errors and omissions.

See the Informed Consent Form

What’s worse is that these facts may not change any time soon. Only 6 of the 26 veterinary schools researched for this article list a specific communications course in their curriculum, either as a required class or an elective.2 Some schools, like Washington State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, require multiple courses that are specifically focused on communications throughout the 4-year program.2 Many others have some coverage of this important skill scattered throughout the curriculum.2 Still, the community of veterinary schools as a whole is not doing enough to provide veterinary students with sufficient client communications training.3,4

Common Mistakes
Typical communication mistakes veterinarians make include the following:

1. Assuming that other team members provide accurate and relevant information to clients without providing them with detailed scripts, question lists, educational consent forms, and/or operational instructions to use for key client interactions.
2. Assuming that clients understand what is being explained just because they are nodding along or saying “yes” or “uh-huh.”
3. Using closed and/or leading questions that suggest certain answers without allowing clients to expand on them.1 While closed questions make it easier to control the discussion, they can make clients feel intimidated or threatened; open-ended questions allow clients to describe their experiences, feelings, and understanding of the subject under discussion.1
4. Assuming that clients do not have the resources or are not willing to pay for what’s best for the patient and failing to explain why that course is the best option.5
5. Failing to use legal consent forms and discuss the issues they contain.6

Communication Strategy
There are many things you can do to ensure that you or your associates never face state board complaints, investigations, and/or disciplinary actions as a result of simple communication errors.

Use the term “medical care plan” instead of “estimate” to focus on courses of action for patient care. This semantically different term emphasizes the diagnostic and treatment part of the plan and diminishes the focus on money.

When possible, stand side-by-side with clients as you educate them, using “show and tell” models, images, or handouts. Encourage them to stop you for clarification and ask questions as you are explaining procedures or as they read the consent forms they are signing. When clients hesitate to sign consents, say, “Please be sure to tell me about any concerns you may have.” The side-by-side posture decreases the image that you are using confrontational communication techniques and, instead, illustrates rapport-building communication.

As much as is practicable, document all forms of communication in the medical record, including in-person educational discussions, phone conversations, and emails. Recording modestly detailed notes during and after these conversations allows you to refer back to them later, when time has faded your accurate recall of events. Detailed records ensure that you and your staff look and are “smart”; incomplete records make all of you appear careless. Remember that documenting courses of action that were recommended and deferred or refused is just as important as documenting the risks and adverse effects of procedures that may have been accepted.

Learn to use personality assessments such as Myers-Briggs ( or DISC ( to help staff understand their communication styles. Practice communicating with clients and staff who have different personality types to better understand how to be more effective.

Do your best to assure that someone on your team can speak Spanish or at least communicate in this language using medical terminology. According to the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau, 12% of the population is Spanish-speaking—and that number is only expected to increase.7 Keep an English/Spanish medical dictionary in your clinic and hang posters in or around the exam rooms with translations for common phrases and terms used in veterinary exams. Don’t let language be a barrier between you and your clients!

Invest in books that teach communication skills. Handbook of Veterinary Communication Skills by Carol Gray and Jenny Moffett, Getting Past No by William Ury, and Legal Consents for Veterinary Practices, ed 4, by James F. Wilson are good resources.

Communication regarding medical subject matter is a skill that is developed over a lifetime of effort and experience. You can educate yourself and your team regarding the most common mistakes and how to avoid them. Fundamentally, if we communicate well, then our clients will be happier, our patients will get well quicker, and we will all enjoy our jobs more.1 | EVT 


1. Handbook of Veterinary Communication Skills. Gray C, Moffet J.—Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing, 2010; pp 15-26.
2. Research performed by Christina Moore referencing web-based course content for all U.S. veterinary school curricula, 2011.
3. The KPMG study: The current and future market for veterinarians and veterinary medical services in the United States. Brown J, Silverman J. JAVMA 2:161-183. 1999.
4. NAVMEC Report, final draft.
5. Law and Ethics of the Veterinary Profession. Wilson JF, et al—Yardley, PA: Priority Press, 1989, p 112.
6. Legal Consents for Veterinary Practices, 4th ed. Wilson JF—Yardley, PA: Priority Press, 2006, pp 4-7.
7. Language spoken at home: 2005–2009 American community survey. U.S. Census Bureau;

The PLPA just keeps growing!

Coleen.Ellis's picture

Hello Fellow PLPA Members!  Can you believe that it's been 6 months since we last gathered together in Vegas for the 2nd PLPA Conference!  Wow!  Where does the time go?!  (By the way - there are only 104 shopping days til Christmas, if you were wondering!)

It's already been a very exciting year for the PLPA team!  First of all, we have over 200 members in our association!  What an amazing accomplishment given our very short time of existence!  A true testimony to the excitement from you, our members, in wanting, as well as needing, an association that answers to your organization's needs as pet loss businesses. 

Secondly, we are about to hold our Charter Certified Pet Loss Professional course on October 3 - 4, 2011, in Fort Worth, TX.  This course is shaping up to be an incredible opportunity for you, the pet loss professional, to further your skills as a specialist in this field.  If you've not registered yet - there's still time!  You most certainly don't want to miss this phenomenal course - and an awesome opportunity to network with other professionals in the field. REGISTER NOW!  Time is running out to take part in this Charter course!  We're excited to honor you at the next ICCFA/PLPA conference in Vegas as a graduate of the first CPLP Course!  Click here to register for the CPLP Course,...

Next, have you also registered for the Pet Loss and Grief Companioning Certification program being held at the end of the CPLP week - October 6 - 8, 2011?  Whether you get this incredible learning to be a better resource to your veterinary clients - or because you work daily with grieving pet parents, you will most certainly find this course to be not only rich in content - but even richer in the sharing and networking with the other attendees.  A most moving experience - as well as some well-rounded learning on the topic of Pet Loss and Grief.  There's still time to get registered for this session as well - click here to let us know you want to sign up for this amazing learning too!

By the way - if you have a veterinary client that you work especially close with - think about bringing them to the Pet Loss and Grief Companioning Certification course as well.  Not only will they get 15 hours of continuing education credit - but you will have a priceless opportunity to bond with your client - and learn at the same time!

Next, we are working to continue to fulfill our promise of "more educational courses" for you and the veterinary community!  Our first webinar was held in August - with 16 attendees, including attendees from the veterinary industry!  These courses will run monthly - with a variety of topics to whet any pet care professional's whistle!  Another fabulous opportunity to bond with a veterinary client - by participating and viewing these sessions together and then taking an opportunity to share after the session.  Remember - be a partner to your veterinary clients when it comes to the topic of pet loss education!

Thanks for all of your support of the PLPA - and for being a part of this amazing journey together!  There's much more to come for our association in the area of standardization for business practices, educational opportunities, and more,...  as a team - we will all make it happen together!


The benefits just keep adding up for the PLPA!

Coleen.Ellis's picture

The benefits of the PLPA just keep adding up!  If you are a pet loss professional, you will not want to miss these incredibly valuable upcoming seminars and webinars!

First of all, beginning August 16, and continuing throughout the end of the year, there will be monthly webinars conducted on the topic of pet loss and grief.  From understanding the basics on how to help a grieving pet parent to how to market your pet loss services, these hour sessions will give you just the break that you and your team needs for some wonderful learning!

Secondly, the Certified Pet Loss Professional charter course has been confirmed!  Join us in Fort Worth, Texas, on October 3 and 4, 2011, for 2 days of learning and networking!  You'll hear from industry experts as well as other business professionals on what it takes to be a successful pet loss business operator.  The educational experience will be just what you are looking for to challenge yourself and your team into success! 

We are also honored to have an amazing line-up of pet loss business vendors that will be joining us during our time in Fort Worth.  From showcasing their pet memorialization items to educating the attendees on how to positively effect revenues within a business through product, these vendor partners will be just one more valuable resource to the PLPA members and attendees.

And, lastly, in working with grieving pet parents, knowing how to effectively companion them through the grief process is important.  Rounding out the week in Fort Worth, TX, from October 6 - 8, 2011, you will have the opportunity to earn a certificate in the area of Pet Loss & Companioning.  These three days will focus solely on the grief journey that a pet parent will experience and how you and your team can be prepared to walk with them on this journey as well as how to help your veterinary partners be more versed in this area too.  Furthermore, you will hear in great detail how to market your pet loss services to your community and other pet care providers that will need to know about your company. 

For all of these wonderful sessions, see us the website for more details!  We look forward to having you join us and to learn more about respectful and dignified pet loss services!


Charter CPLP Course

beyondtherainbow's picture

Hello fellow PLPA members,


Are you ready for a fabulous time of learning and sharing with your fellow colleagues in the pet loss world?  Are you looking for that “sizzle” that will make you and your company stand out from your competition?  Are you anxious to be the “best of the best” at what we offer to pet parents every day? 

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then plan to be in Fort Worth, Texas October 2-4, 2011 for the Charter Certified Pet Loss Professional course.  I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed that you came.  Roberta Knauf and I, along with your Education Committee and PLPA co-chairs, have lined up some of the best speakers in the country and Fort Worth, the “City of Cowboys and Culture” is a perfect setting for a little bit of relaxation, a little bit of fun, and a whole lot of learning. 


We start with a Kick-off Party at the World’s Largest Honky-Tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas and finish Tuesday evening with an elegant and fabulous evening at the Fort Worth Petroleum Club, where the food and wine are superb and the views from the 40th floor are breathtaking.  Sandwiched in between are 2 days and 12 speakers that will provide motivational and educational sessions that we have planned specifically for this Charter Course. 

Watch for your ICCFA magazine and registration information soon…and be prepared to come and learn what you need to be the “best of the best” in your community.

Feel free to call on me or any of your committee chairs if you have any questions, or to tell us what we can do for you.

See you in October,

Kate Moore

Education Committee Co-Chair