Using posters to find a lost animal

Posters are an important tool for letting the world know that you have accidentally lost your pet AND that you seriously want him/her back.  Not only does it help inform everyone to be on the lookout, but it lets them know that you did not abandon the pet.  Remember, there are good Samaritans out there who may have found your pet and, thinking that he/she was abandoned or unwanted, “rescued the poor thing” from an “undeserving” owner.

This section provides information about creating an effective poster, a sample poster, tools needed for putting up your posters, and a list of suggested locations for where to post your information. Please check local, state and federal guidelines in regards to where flyers may be posted.

Making a good poster

In addition to posting flyers (8 x 11 sheets of paper) on bulletin boards, etc.., you will also want to attach flyers to highly visible giant fluorescent poster boards on telephone poles to advertise that you have lost your dog or cat. Fluorescent posters are highly visible, effective and they are harder for people to tear down. They have proven highly successful in the recovery of your lost pets. Your goal with these poster boards is to make them big, noticeable and brief.

Many thanks to Kat Albrecht and Missing Pet Partnership for her informative lost pet website and for her explanation for how to make a poster.


At least 10 giant (28″ x 22″) florescent orange poster boards;
2 large black magic permanent markers ( do not buy water soluble markers);
10 sheet protectors; duct tape;
10 flyers with color photo of your lost pet.


  1. Use giant (28″ X 22″) florescent orange poster board available at most office supply stores. The size and florescent color will attract the eye of everyone who drives by-this is your goal! You will hang this vertical (not horizontal).
  2. At the very top, in 5-inch black letters , print the words REWARD.
  3. At the very bottom, in 5-inch black letters, print the words LOST CAT (or appropriate animal species).
  4. In the center of the poster, use clear packing tape to secure a plastic sheet protector. This is where you will slip your FLYER in and then seal the top portion with more tape to protect it from weather.

Above printed by permission of Kat Albrecht, Missing Pet Partnership.

Posting posters and flyers

Remember to display your poster at eye level for each situation.  For example, if posted on:

  • a telephone pole, the poster should be visible to someone driving by in a car
  • a bulletin board, the poster should catch the eye of someone walking by

For more ideas of people and places to call—and specific local establishments—thumb through your yellow pages.  Bear in mind that some towns may have local laws about hanging posters.  You may need a permit and should establish some kind of relationship with the police, a selectman, or the town clerk.  The more friendships you make, the more support you will get. Mobilize friends and family members to put up new posters every few days, as the old ones fall down or get weathered.

Your Private Property

  • Your car’s side and back windows. If you have tinted glass, put poster on inside.
  • Your front door
  • Your front yard
  • Your mailbox, if it is on the street

Local Businesses

  • Banks
  • Coffee shops
  • Convenience stores
  • Child day care centers
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores (pet food aisle)
  • Hotels
  • Restaurant windows
  • Taverns

Pet-Related Establishments

  • Dog trainers
  • Groomers
  • Humane societies
  • Kennels
  • Pet stores
  • Pet day care centers
  • Rescue groups
  • Shelters
  • Veterinarians

Prominent Public Locations

  • Church bulletin boards
  • Libraries
  • Office building bulletin boards
  • Park entrances
  • School bulletin boards
  • Stop signs
  • Telephone poles
  • Police station


See under Your Personal Property, above.  Also consider putting posters on car windows in parking lots, but be aware of local laws.

Using Handouts

In addition to the large posters that you have put up all over town, you should prepare flyers that you can pass out to everyone.  Here are some suggestions for distributing your handouts:

Door to Door

Knock on every door in your neighbor and give them a flyer, leave one on the door or tape to the mailbox.  At the same time, be sure to:

  • write down the name, phone # and email address of the person to whom you spoke.
  • leave your name and contact information, which should be on the poster.
  • ask your neighbor to look and listen for a dog (or cat) in their area.
  • call your animal’s name and listen carefully for signs of distress.
  • check their garage, sheds or other buildings.
  • look in their trees, bushes and gardens.
  • check their basements and bulkheads.
  • ask permission to enter their property to look for yourself (the animal might be too frightened to respond to a stranger).
  • ask whether they have noticed a new dog (or cat) in the area.
  • ask neighborhood kids if they have seen anything.  Kids can be a great source of neighborhood goings-on.
  • ask neighbors if they are aware of any cat trapping in the neighborhood.  Don’t rule out neighbor malice.

Delivery Services

  • Give your postal carrier a flyer or a photo with the dog’s or cat’s name and your name/phone on it.
  • Contact your newspaper delivery people, give them a flyer, and ask them to be on the lookout for your pet.

In the Park

Give copies of your flier to people that walk their dogs in the area. They are more likely to spot animals than most people.  If you go to the parks early you may find people who regularly walk their dogs as an informal group.  Dogs on leashes notice and want to investigate all kinds of things, including loose dogs or cats.

At the Office

Give flyers to your friends and office mates and ask them to pass them along.

Email, Facebook and other Social Media

Send it to everyone in your contact list and ask each contact to do the same. Additionally, creating a Facebook page entitled, “Find (your pet’s name)” is an efficient way of getting the word out that your pet is missing. Include photos and allow people to post sitings. Ask everyone you know to share this Facebook page to their own page.