FLIERS and SIGNS (cont.)

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Start making a list of police departments, animal control and humane officers, dog wardens, animal shelters, vets, humane societies, rescue groups and others you notify about your lost dog. Include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of contact, and any other information that may be pertinent.

A list is a necessity and will help make the "Thank You" process much easier when your search is over.

Immediately give a picture-flier with a full description to all local Animal Control Officers and shelters. Loose dogs can cause traffic accidents. ASAP - Police and fire stations and the nearest state police barracks.

Distribute fliers to everyone involved with animals on a routine basis, including, but not limited to: Veterinarian hospitals and clinics, humane and rescue groups, kennels, breeders, groomers, dog daycare, pet stores, pet sitters, dog trainers, and feed & grain stores. (First locally, then border communities, and further as needed.)

Dogs are attracted by odors that you don't smell and repeatedly visit dumpsters and rubbish holding areas. Visit all fast food establishments, restaurants, picnic areas, campgrounds, country clubs, amusement parks, convenience stores, and doughnut shops. Stop by every establishment with a kitchen facility. At places that cook and/or serve food, ask to talk with the person (chef or kitchen staff member) who discards the trash and leftovers. Post at rubbish transfer/recycling stations, and dumps/landfills, so both the employees and residential users see it. Tape a flier to your trashcan and the recycling bin for the collectors to put inside their trucks.

Ask to speak with the owner, manager, or person in charge when distributing fliers to businesses or organizations. When not prohibited by corporate policy (or the owner) you should post a flier where the majority of customers will see it, ideally placed at eye level. Ask if a second flier can be posted where all the employees will see it, like near a time clock or in a cafeteria. Keep a supply of fliers, pens, small notepad, tacks, and scotch tape in your car.

Fliers should be delivered to:

  • Local, state, and federal government agencies that have workers who maintain roads and state highways, such as: Department of Transportation (DOT) and Division of Public Works (DPW).
  • Local, state, and national parks, wildlife refuges, sanctuaries, and zoos.
  • Maintenance, and Buildings and Grounds supervisors of schools, government centers, and institutions.
  • School districts, school bus drivers, athletic fields, and all recreation facilities.
  • Post Office bulletin boards (if allowed), back room sorting operations, and mail carriers.
  • Utility companies (phone, cable, electric, water, and gas), and the field workers who install or repair equipment.
  • Construction crews of planned communities and subdivisions, landscapers, and others who work outdoors.
  • Stores: Video, liquor, supermarkets, discount, hunting supplies, bait & tackle, bicycle, boating/marine, and so on.
  • Places: Laundromats, gas stations, salvage yards, senior centers, churches, airports, libraries, car dealers, & so on.
  • Cemeteries - see the groundskeepers (lawn mowing in nicer weather, snowplowing in winter)
  • Local delivery trucks, courier companies like FED EX, UPS, and DHL, and trucking facilities (truckstops).

Hand out fliers at social events: rabies clinics, town meetings, dog or cat shows, church fairs, and football games.

Put fliers under the wiper blades of cars in parking lots: supermarkets, malls, flea markets, train & bus stations.

Drive around with signs and fliers taped to the outside of your vehicle to raise awareness about a lost dog. Tape a sign on the left side of the rear window or trunk so drivers directly behind you can read it easily. Tape a picture flier near it. Park strategically in search or sighting areas, positioning your vehicle so the sign is visible. Don't park illegally and aggravate everyone. A sign also helps residents know why you're in their neighborhood. People tend to be more sympathetic, vigilant, and helpful if they constantly see someone searching for the dog. If parked, prop a sign up on the dash or (weather permitting) put it outside under a wiper blade with some fliers.

It's relatively easy to find someone who thinks they saw the lost dog but DID NOT call to report it.

See "Sample Residential Flier"
- A special flier, expanded in details and tailored for use in residential areas.

Lost dog searchers often ignore the time-consuming task of talking to all the residents in a search/sighting zone. Residents are your source for new leads and valuable information about the general area. Some of them think lost dogs are easy to find and don't realize that every sighting call is important. If you haven't had any sightings, begin tracking the dog's direction of travel by going to the last known sighting spot, and then start knocking on doors. Work safely, respect the property and privacy of others, and watch out for "Beware" or "No Trespassing" signs! If no one's home, leave a flier at the entry door you think is most used by the resident, or choose a location where it will be noticed upon their return. Secure with scotch tape or place under a flowerpot so it doesn't blow away. When going door to door with fliers, try working with someone so you stay safe, yet get the job done quickly.

Remember to tell everyone that fliers and signs will remain posted until the search is over. Always replace worn or faded notices with new ones. Are several missing? Harsh weather can blow them away. A flier can "disappear" because someone wants to have a personal copy. It's common to find signs (yard sale, lost pet, or others) removed from utility poles because they "tarnished" the look of a neighborhood or business entrance, or there's an ordinance against posting. If only one notice keeps disappearing, try placing it further down the road.

Posts on the Internet reach out to individuals who care about animals. When emailing fliers, ask the recipients to verify receipt and to print a hard copy to post in their office. Post on lost pet sites such as: www.Petfinder.com (in the "LOST' classifieds). Put the date your dog disappeared, and the town and street where it was lost. Include current sighting locations and a good description. Some ads are extremely vague and omit basic details, which doesn't help people who try to match up lost and found pets. Write down passwords that you create when posting to websites so the ads can be changed or deleted in the future. Remember to renew or refresh all posts you made on Internet websites. Be courteous to others on lost pet sites by deleting posts when your dog is found - save the space and keep the spotlight on pets that are still missing. Don't be afraid to talk with those who deal with animals on a daily basis and ask for their ideas or suggestions.

A picture can be worth a thousand words. Place an ad in newspapers using a nice, clear picture of your dog. Place ads in local "penny saver" publications - free newspapers picked up and read by thousands of people. Newspaper carriers might be willing to help by giving a flier to each of their customers.

It's VERY important to provide a picture-flier with a detailed description of your dog to those who may eventually have it in their care, but not realize it. Animal shelters, vets, humane societies, and rescue groups deal with a large number of animals on a routine basis. Don't let people guess if you found your dog or not. Continue to forward updated fliers to those involved with the care or rescue of animals. Start out from the spot where the dog disappeared and work outbound in a large radius (50 - 100 miles +), crossing state lines as needed.

Many dogs do survive the ordeal of being lost, regardless of breed, size, or age, and are found as "strays." "Duncan" was lost, has been wandering for months, and is finally rescued by a nice lady who outsmarts him. He lost his collar with tags quite some time ago, never had a microchip implant (what the heck is that?) and was never tattooed (but that's sooooo popular now!). Phone calls are made, emails exchanged, and Internet websites visited on Duncan's behalf. Unfortunately, there's no lost dog reports on file for him - anywhere. He's handsome, knows basic commands and cute tricks, and is gentle and loving; but Duncan is a stray without "identification." Keep fliers working for you and your dog so they're in the right place at the right time, even if you're not.


Make mini-fliers by downsizing yours to get several copies on one sheet of paper. The dog's picture must remain clear and detailed, and the text readable by the majority of people who you give it to. Small fliers are easy to carry and fine to use as handouts when you forget to bring fliers, or you run out. They are convenient for people to put in a pocket, wallet, or purse. Mini-fliers can be created on blank postcards or standard-sized business cards, though you'll probably have to edit the text. Make some at home or find a business professional for your printing needs.

Removing every flier, every sign, and all Internet posts, will let everyone know that your search is over.

Debbie (Hall) Scarpellini copy 2/2009