Create a flyer immediately for posting & distribution. Make it easy to read, using plain, bold, capital letters, in black ink only. Colors fade, use only for pictures. The flyer's goal is to give the public enough information so they can match a dog they see with the description you provide and call you with a "sighting."
Using the word "REWARD":
Some children and adults get excited and it may encourage them to chase your dog. It doesn't necessarily lead to more sighting calls. LOST DOG should be at top of flyer in very large letters. PICTURE(s) can be inserted just under it. A close-up, full body picture of dog standing is best, but any picture that is clear and detailed is fine. If necessary, use 2 pictures side by side. Remember that one great picture is larger/better. List any major changes in dog's current looks from the picture used. (Ex. red collar in picture = "missing red collar", "puppy picture" or "shaved for summer.")
"DO NOT CHASE":
Mandatory phrase. Insert and underline it. Many well-intentioned people will chase a dog and chasing can make it run further away. "DETAILS" - Make sure Animal Control Officer "ACO", Veterinarians, shelters & rescue groups have details that may not be on flyer, such as tattoo, microchip, and scars. Put dog's name, sex, weight & breed; mixed dog - list top two. List major colors only. List things easily seen by people, not shown in picture, such as a white tip on tail, curly tail, shaved for summer, etc. List collar, leash or harness and it's color.
Mention out-of-state (Ex. "MA tags", "NY rabies tag") Old tags - Notify the issuing Town Clerk, ACO and Veterinarian that your dog is lost with old tags on; especially if you have since moved from that town/state. DATES/LOCATIONS - If you omit the date, street & town where dog was lost you could save time re-doing flyers. Reasons to omit: Some people see an "old" date on flyer and assume the dog has already been found. Others, knowing a dog is still missing, will be quick to judge by date alone, a dog's chances of being found safe/alive. Listing exact street locations & towns will limit your use of the current flyer in new sighting areas. Many people will not be on the lookout if your flyer lists a street too far away from their home. If you go "door to door" with flyers, you may use exact information as desired. The same applies when working in multiple towns.
PHONE NUMBERS on flyers must include area code. List two numbers if possible. Do not use the ACO's number except in special circumstances, such as dogs lost out of state. Even then, include your number. A "live" person (best) or answering machine should receive sighting calls. Check machine as much as possible, even when calls are infrequent. Fit "CALL ASAP" next to the top phone number. Put "ANY HOUR" right under "CALL ASAP" if you can handle a call at midnight. Few people will call at "any" hour. Most wait until a "normal" time, no matter what. Change your message machine to say, "Hello, if you are calling about 'dog's name', thank you! We need the day, time, street and nearest cross street or exact location you saw 'Buddy'. If you wish to leave your name & number, we appreciate it & we'll call you back as soon as possible."
Flyers should be posted on poles about chest height with small staple gun. Do not post on poles with a fire alarm box, on curves or high-speed streets. Do not nail on trees. Do post at all intersections and as needed on long streets. Tips - Insert flyers in Xerox sheet protectors (office supply) open side down. Protects flyer from weather. Get a map and highlight where you have posted. Keep track of all sighting calls and mark sites on map. Make a list of names & phone numbers of everyone you contact. This makes it easy to notify them when your search is over. Ask the ACO to notify you ASAP regarding any calls about stray dogs that generally match your dog's description. Help the next "lost dog" and quickly remove all flyers when your search is over. E-mail flyers when you can't hand deliver, but verify receipt. Post on the Internet such as on 'Petfinder.com' in classifieds section. Include street & town where lost and good description; many ads are vague. Renew/Delete as needed.
Reprinted with permission of Debbie Hall