Posts and Signs
Neon signs are the best way to get sightings for your lost dog or to let the finder know who to call! Although it may seem counter-intuitive to take time away from driving the area and searching on foot, having appropriate signage and online posts will allow for many more people to help with your search across a wide area.
Social media and other online sites can be extremely beneficial for lost dog searches, and often work together for sightings or connecting a finder with the owner of a lost dog. When posting to any site, be sure to include ‘DO NOT CHASE’, a phone number in the main post so you can be quickly reached with any sightings, the nearest cross streets to where your dog went missing, as well as times and locations of any sightings. If your dog went missing from someplace other than home or while be watched by another caretaker, it’s good to note that in your post.
Check your posts frequently for comments, answer any questions, and keep it active with the latest updates until your dog is home. Owners who are more interactive on their posts, generally receive more help from the community and have a greater chance of successfully finding their dog. Below is a list of online sites which may be useful.
Notify the local shelters that your dog is missing. Regional Animal Services of King County, PAWS in Lynnwood, and Burien C.A.R.E.S. allow lost pet forms to be submitted online as well. Also check Auburn Valley Humane Society, Renton Police Animal Control, and Burien C.A.R.E.S. Facebook pages for found pet posts. Please don’t assume all shelter pets are listed online. It’s important to check the shelters in-person every 2-3 days, as most shelters only hold found pets for 72 hours before preparing them for adoption.
Signs work! Large, bright signs, done right, result in the highest rate of return for lost dogs. To be effective, they need to be easily seen from the road. Bright, attention grabbing signs are 100 times better than the typical 8.5×11 flyer on a utility pole. Signs should also be weatherproof, as even morning dew can curl signs in where they’re no longer visible.
A common way to make posters is with neon poster board (which is usually available at dollar stores, craft stores, and Fred Meyer/Target), jumbo thick permanent marker, printed photo, and clear contact paper or sheet protector. Use a clear, simple full-page photo of your dog, preferably showing the full body. In big bold letters, write LOST DOG and your phone number, with a few descriptive words (‘Old Black Shaggy Dog’ or ‘Brown Pit Bull Mix’) in smaller print. Make it as easy as possible for people to help you. If using sheet protectors, be sure the opening is facing down and sealed off with tape. To generate immediate impact, you might tape a few to stop signs or telephone poles in your neighborhood. This might or may not be allowed by local codes.
Make your signs more durable and weatherproof by getting blank plastic signs.
Plastic yard sale signs (H-frames) can be purchased from most hardware or office supply stores, as well as on Amazon and other online shops. Place the photo and text in upside down sheet protectors and use clear packing tape to seal and secure to the sign. Laminators are not expensive, and a laminated photo shows up much clearer than one in a sheet protector. If your dog is missing, having bright, clear, waterproof signs can make a huge difference.
To make your signs more effective, you may wish to edit a photo of your cat or dog so that the background is erased. Pixelmator app on the iPhone or remove.bg work well. This makes the picture stand out and draw attention and also helps people to look for a distinctive silhouette. Anything you can do to make your signs clear, simple, sharp, and bright, is going to increase your chances of catching the attention of the right person. Making good signs can be time consuming. Ask family, friends, and neighbors to help. Great signs don’t guarantee that you will find your dog but greatly improve your chances.
Lastly, take your signs down once you find your dog. This is very important for the next lost pet. Old signs are a distraction, and they may be wasting time and energy if people are looking for pets that were already found. You asked for the community’s help in finding your lost dog, so please take the time to make sure you clean up after.
In addition to big neon signs, flyers can be helpful for getting the word out to the community. While out searching, hand flyers to anyone passing by. Hang them at bulletin boards at the nearby dog park, grocery store, and coffee shop. If you live in or near an apartment complex, hang one near the mailboxes. Smaller flyers (4 per page) are great for giving to delivery drivers (UPS/Fed Ex, Pizza, Amazon), mail carriers, waste management, lawn maintenance, park service personnel, security and law enforcement.
As with the signs, keep your flyers simple. The phone number needs to be prominent, and the photo needs to be clear. Removing the background from the photo will help the image of your dog stand out more. It’s best to use a photo of your dog which shows the full body for easier identification with sightings. DO NOT CHASE should be included on all signage, and do not include the dog’s name, as you don’t want to encourage people to yell out to your dog when seen. Since dogs travel, it’s better to not include a location, as that will make some witnesses second-guess a sighting outside the expected area.
Mark Your Car
NEOmarkers by Neoplex work best for this, although you may have to order them on line, which is inconvenient when you are in a hurry. In Seattle, you can buy them at a police supply store called Blumenthal. You might have to do some detective work to find a retail store near you that sells these markers. They work well and last in the rain. Be sure to avoid getting the ink on your good clothes because it will not come off your clothes, ever. It does come off your car window with window cleaner.
You can get less-effective window markers at many stores, including craft supply stores and even grocery stores. These will work as long as it doesn’t rain. In Seattle, that’s not very long.
As a substitute for the markers, you can make up a large sign to tape to the outside of your rear window. I knew one woman who had custom magnets made for her car doors when her dog went missing. I would certainly do that if my dog was missing, but a sign in the window will also work.
Whether you get the good markers, the cheap markers, or use a sign in the window, make your sign simple, with huge letters, so someone can read it easily while driving by. On a typical rear window, you can fit either three or four rows of large letters. If possible, use a different color for each word, to attract attention and help people differentiate the words easily. Be sure your window is clean and dry before you start.
LOST BLACK LAB
15TH & 159TH
You have probably already been out looking for your dog before you read this. Before you go out looking again, be sure to get your rear window marked. You are missing an opportunity if you are driving around looking without a sign in your rear window. Also, people might be a bit nervous if they see a strange car rolling slowly through their neighborhood. A sign on your window will put people at ease and make them more receptive when you approach them for help.
If you have a second vehicle that’s not in frequent use, mark the windows and park the vehicle where it’s clearly visible in a high-traffic area, such as near the entrance of a busy parking lot or where it will be seen from a major intersection.