Meet the Petful Team

At Petful®, we are on a mission to give our readers the best, most accurate information to help their pets live happier, healthier lives.

Petful is based in New York City, but the whole team is scattered across the country. Keep reading to learn more about the amazing people who are making Petful possible:

Dave Baker Petful publisher

Dave Baker | Publisher

Dave is a journalist and editor who has worked at The New York Times and The Nation magazine. He was also part of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize–winning team at The Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he founded Pets Adviser in 2009, which eventually became Petful. For a few years he was co-owner of the Presidential Pet Museum.

A longtime advocate for pet food safety, Dave has been passionately tracking pet food recalls at Petful for the past 10-plus years, and more than 30,000 pet parents are subscribed to his recall alerts — which sometimes arrive even faster than the recall alerts put out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Animal Radio has called Petful’s list of U.S. pet food recalls “the best, most complete list” online.

Dave holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Clemson University, where he studied journalism and was editor in chief of The Tiger, a student newspaper twice awarded Best in Show during his years there by the Associated Collegiate Press.

His work in the media has received a number of other awards over the years from professional organizations, such as the Society for News Design and the South Carolina Press Association. In 2019, Dave received an Honorable Mention in the AVA Digital Awards in the “On-Camera Talent” category for his video “Why I Created Petful.” He also was the winner of an Award of Excellence and 2 Awards of Distinction in the 2019 Communicator Awards.

Petful is a part of Dave’s independent company, Super Copy Editors LLC — a business proofreading service in New York City. Here is the company’s Better Business Bureau page. In addition, Dave is a proud member of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES), an organization dedicated to promoting accuracy in writing and raising the standards of editing.

A passionate animal lover, Dave has cared for a number of dogs, cats and other small pets over the years.

» See Dave’s articles


Kristine Lacoste | Editor in Chief

Kristine is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of One Unforgettable Journey, which was named as a finalist for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show.

In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years.

Kristine has been researching and writing about pet behaviors and care for many years, with her articles appearing in various publications.

She is the chief operating officer of a large mental health practice in Louisiana and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

She has been with Petful since 2011. During that time, the Petful content team has won numerous awards — including 7 Certificates of Excellence from the Dog Writers Association of America, 3 Certificates of Excellence from the Cat Writers’ Association, 1 Award of Excellence and 2 Awards of Distinction in the 2019 Communicator Awards, plus an Honorable Mention in the AVA Digital Awards.

But our biggest award is the positive feedback we regularly get from our readers.

“Everything we do at Petful is focused on helping pets live happier lives and empowering their human caregivers with information, entertainment and shared experiences,” Kristine says.

Her love of animals started at a young age with cats, dogs and many frogs.

» See Kristine’s articles


Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD | Veterinarian Writer

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has been practicing medicine for over 30 years. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Lichtenberg also trained at the Philadelphia Zoo. She now practices in the New York City area and lives in the West Village with her husband and her rescued pets, Cocoa and OG.

Dr. Lichtenberg has been writing for Petful for many years, and she has been recognized with Certificates of Excellence from both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association.

» See Dr. Lichtenberg’s articles


Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS  | Veterinarian Writer

Dr. Elliott has nearly 30 years of experience in companion animal practice. She earned her Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery from the University of Glasgow. She was also designated a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Married with 2 grown-up kids, Dr. Elliott has a naughty Puggle named Poggle, 3 cats and a bearded dragon.

» See Dr. Elliott’s articles

Melissa Smith | Discussions Manager & Writer

Melissa is a longtime animal lover, pet sitter, dog walker and business owner in Massachusetts who has been with Petful since 2013.

As discussions manager for Petful, Melissa makes sure that our comments section is respectful and fun. She also writes a variety of articles on everything from grooming tips to advice on pet behaviors.

Melissa’s research and insights into pet behaviors have been recognized with Certificates of Excellence from both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association.

Melissa spends her time running her business, Fresh Start Services, which offers professional pet sitting on Cape Cod, as well as walking dogs, visiting with chickens and befriending cats on her pet sitting visits.

» See Melissa’s articles


T.J. Banks | Cat Behaviors Writer

T.J. is the author of Sketch People: Stories Along the Way, A Time for Shadows, Catsong, Souleiado, Derv & Co.: A Life Among Felines and Houdini, a novel for young adults.

Catsong, a collection of her best cat stories, was the winner of a Merial Human–Animal Bond Award.

T.J. has received writing awards from the Cat Writers’ Association (most recently a Certificate of Excellence in 2019), as well as from ByLine and The Writing Self. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul and A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love, and T.J. has worked as a stringer for the Associated Press, as an instructor for the Writer’s Digest School and as a columnist.

» See T.J.’s articles

Caitlin Crittenden | Dog Behaviors Writer

Caitlin is owner and head trainer of Life Dog Training. She has studied dog training for nearly 20 years and has helped dogs of all ages learn basic obedience commands, intermediate commands and off-leash commands.

She has also helped dogs prepare for service, therapy and emotional support work. Plus, she has taught nearly 100 different tricks, ranging from “play dead” to “bring the food bowl to me.”

Caitlin is certified through the SIRIUS Dog Trainer Academy and is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). In 2019, Caitlin was named a finalist for the Canine Enrichment Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and she received a Certificate of Excellence.

She and her husband live in Georgia with their Border Collie, Mack, and their Curly-Coated Retriever, River.

» See Caitlin’s articles

Angela DeRiso | Exotic Pets Writer

Angela is passionate about exotic animals, especially reptiles — she has hands-on experience caring for a number of them over the years. Angela works to educate the public on proper care and husbandry of reptiles through local public outreach events and in her writing.

Her articles have been published by HealthyPets, Tampa Bay House Rabbit Rescue, Animal Bliss, the Suncoast Herpetological Society and Reptiles magazine.

Angela also works as an artist creating colored pencil illustrations featuring reptiles and amphibians in fantasy settings to spread the love for these underrated animals, and she runs a YouTube channel in which she shares her artistic process and her love for her own reptiles. You can follow her on Facebook here.

» See Angela’s articles


Gayle Hickman | Writer

Bet you didn’t realize Petful was a family business. Guess what? Gayle is Dave’s mom.

She and her husband, Doug, managed Petful’s former shop out of their home in Shiloh, South Carolina, with Gayle handling the day-to-day tasks and Doug happily packing all the orders. He kept a big U.S. map on the wall with dozens of pins marking every location to which he had shipped orders. Almost every state had a pin in it, as he loved to point out.

Before Doug’s death in 2016, he and Gayle shared their lives with many animals over the years — not only dogs and cats, but also rabbits, goats and chickens in the yard — his 2 pet roosters were named George and Merle (after legendary country singers George Jones and Merle Haggard). Doug even wanted to one day get a few emus! And we think he was serious about that. “Every pet deserves love,” he would often say.

Gayle has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader’s Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

» See Gayle’s articles


Allison Gray | Writer

Allison is a photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter.

She is married to her high school sweetheart, with whom she has visited 6 countries. Together they are the parents of a rescued dog, Banjo, and advocates for animal adoption and responsible pet care.

For months now, Allison has been researching, testing out and perfecting nutritious pet treat recipes in her kitchen for Petful.

You can follow Allison on her blog, Babe: Pig Dog in the Big City, and you can view her amazing artwork here: Custom Pet Art.

» See Allison’s articles


Jillian Blume | Features Writer

Jillian is a New York City–based writer whose feature articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Observer, Marie Claire, Self and many others.

She received a master’s degree in creative writing from New York University, has taught writing and literature at the School of Visual Arts, and is currently working on a novel. Jillian has been honored with several Certificates of Excellence from the Dog Writers Association of America for articles she has written for Petful.

Like the rest of us here at Petful, Jillian passionately supports animal welfare and rescue, and she often covers these topics in her articles.

» See Jillian’s articles


Julie Kim | Designer

Julie not only headed up both the website design and the 2015 rebranding campaign for Pets Adviser/Petful, but she also happens to be Dave’s talented, amazing wife! She takes care of all sorts of design problems that pop up.

Julie holds a master’s degree in communications design from Pratt Institute.