Who is Liz?
Updated: Aug 2
Hi. I'm Liz Blackman and I'm the founder of Help4Pets. I started my company in 1996 with a simple, serious plan - a dream really - to help pets. It was a humble beginning that started with just me, my two rescued dogs, Lita and Winchell, for inspiration, an idea, a pen and a pad at my kitchen table in Los Angeles.
A whole lot of pets have been helped since then.
Today, Help4Pets helps pets throughout the U.S. and Canada with our lifesaving pet-emergency ID services and fundraising tools for animal shelters and rescues. And I'm often called on by national and international animal protection organizations to step in to help when pets are caught up in dire circumstances. One of the greatest challenges we took on was when the Humane Society of the United States asked us to set up a program to help pets displaced by Hurricane Katrina. This required a combination of quick action and the ability to meet the unique needs posed by this catastrophic event. Another was when SPCA International chose us to create a pet identification system for Operation Baghdad Pups, a program developed to help American soldiers serving in Iraq who could not bear to leave behind the dogs who they had befriended when their tour of duty ended.
The truth is, none of this might ever have happened had it not been for Lita and Winchell who literally got the ball rolling.
Lita was my first dog as an adult and I joked that if anything ever happened to her, you'd have to put ME to sleep. Anyone who knew me and knew Lita, knew I wasn't completely kidding. I found Winchell at Winchell's Donuts while driving down Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Something told me that that dog sitting on the sidewalk with a Dixie Cup of water just didn't "look right". And I was right. Someone had left him there and it soon became clear they weren't coming back. He didn't have a thing to his name, not even a name, unless you count the Dixie Cup, so he became Winchell, my Winnie. Within a few months, I discovered that he needed medication twice a day for a seizure disorder and wondered if that might have explained why he had been abandoned.
So there I was, in a codependent relationship with one dog and the guardian of a drug-dependent second, both of whom I could not have loved more. With years of amateur lost-pet experience that began when I was a kid already under my belt, and the equivalent of what I liked to call at least junior-pet-detective credentials, I knew that a standard ID tag and microchip weren't going to be good OR enough for my special-needs pups. And I knew better than to think that nothing bad would ever happen to them if I was just careful enough. I had helped hundreds of lost pets by this time who had people who loved and cared for them. I knew all too well that something could happen, no matter HOW careful I was. What if someone found Lita and couldn't, or wouldn't, hold onto her if I couldn't be reached right away? What if someone could and would hold onto Winchell but didn't know that he needed medication? I took them everywhere with me; what if we got in a car accident? What if I got hit by a bus?
Yes, I did ask myself those questions, often worrying out loud. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I lost sleep over plenty of others, too. So, yes, Help4Pets, and specifically our Pet Emergency Tag System (PETS), was born out of my "helicopter parenting" my two four-legged kids, long before anyone had coined the term or even noticed that airborne parenting was a thing and surely before they imagined it would ever be applied to pets.
One day, several years ago, my team and I had an all-company meeting and someone thought it would be great fun to play a game: If "so and so" was a dog, what breed of dog would they be? We all made our lists, paired each person with a pup, and then put the slips of paper in a hat. Then, one by one, we picked a list and read each one out loud. From the start, it was pretty clear to us all who were going to be the Golden Retrievers among us and, frankly, who were not. But not to worry; we were a team of dog lovers, after all, and we loved them all.
So, who is Liz?
Well, according to some of the people who know me best and see me in action nearly every day, I am a Boston Terrier. Now, I never expected to be cast as the cuddly type, the one who gets away with murder while the rest of the pack gets put in time-out. And I knew I'd never be pegged as the slinky Saluki of my dreams. But a Boston Terrier? "Wow, you guys really know me," I conceded. Truth is, I could not have been more flattered.
Yep, I can be a terrier on a pant leg when I really care about something; I think that's a good thing. And I really care about pets. I think you'll think that's a great thing when you find out I don't just mean my pets; I mean your pets, too.