A few years ago my wife and I lost a pet. Our cat Joe got away from us and hid in the woods for three weeks. It was devastating. For the previous 14 years, we had been blessed with three cats, but within a year all three passed. Joe was a Christmas present to my wife from me. He was only one-year-old. We weren’t supposed to lose him, and ultimately through the help of friends, neighbors, social media, and a lost pet sign—we got him back. He’s sitting next to me as I write this. For some reason, he likes keyboards. Here’s how to make a lost pet sign.

How to Make a Lost Pet Sign

The Poster

  1. Begin with LOST PET in a large, bold, easy to read font at the top of the poster.
  2. Place a photo of the pet under LOST PET.
  3. Place the Pet’s name under the photo.
  4. Describe the pet.
  5. Share where last seen.
  6. Share if the pet will answer to its name.
  7. Add a call to action, which could be a reward but doesn’t have to be, sharing how much the pet is missed means a lot.
  8. Add contact information.
  9. Say thank you.

How Many Signs Will You Need?

It depends on the situation and the pet. For example, most cats stay close, “If your cat has escaped and is displaced outside or into unfamiliar territory there is good news — your cat is probably not lost at all! That is because it is likely that your cat is hiding and, depending upon the terrain, he/she is probably closer than you think!” — Missing Pet Partnership. For our cat Joe we printed twenty signs.

“There are six major factors that influence the distances that a lost dog will travel: Temperament, Circumstances, Weather, Terrain, Appearance, and Population Density.”– Lost Dog Behavior. So, depending on the factors listed more signs may be required for lost dogs than for cats.

Where Should You Place Signs?

We placed Joe’s lost pet posters near the entrances to our housing addition, as well as street on corners near our home, and in our front yard; for this we used yard signs. And with permission, we placed posters at local retail outlets—grocery, pharmacy, and gas stations. A lost dog may require more signs and further placement. Regardless of the neighborhood, stop and think where the most people would see the signs. Is it the grocery, local restaurant, grain elevator, or? We also stuffed doors with 200 9 x 11 flyers.

After Your Pet is Found

Everywhere we turned we found positive, hopeful people who shared best practices for helping return Joe to his home. When we found Joe at the top of the woods behind our house, under a shed, we were elated. We printed “He’s Home, Thank You!” in bright red letters and taped it to every sign. We left the signs up one extra day before recycling them.

You Have Resources

Losing a pet is heart wrenching but there is a lot that can be done. We canvassed the neighborhood and talked with neighbors. We posted on Twitter and Facebook and we solicited help and advice from our vet The Downtown Vet and organizations such as Lost Pet Alert Everywhere we turned we found positive, hopeful people who shared best practices for returning Joe home. If you’d like additional advice or just a friendly ear reach out to me. I’d be happy to help.

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