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Posted By : Katy K.
How to Make a Lost Pet Poster: Expert Advice

Last Updated on July 31, 2023

Creating an Eye-Catching Lost Pet Poster: What You Need to Know

There is nothing more terrifying than losing your furry loved one, especially when you have taken all the necessary precautions to keep them safe. If you find yourself in this situation, one of the best tools out there is the good old-fashioned lost pet poster.

In a previous blog post, we shared recommendations for how to take immediate action once you realize your pet is missing to spread the word in your local community. The first step is to not panic – Although we know this can be tough to do when your favorite four-legged family member is missing, it’s important to keep calm so you can think clearly.

With a cool head and a determined heart, we know your next priority will be to focus on the search for your missing pet. And because today is National Lost Dog Awareness Day, we talked to professional pet detective and Missing Animal Response Network founder Kat Albrecht to learn how to create the most effective missing pet poster imaginable.

  Photo Credit: National Day Calendar Photo Credit: National Day Calendar

PawBoost makes you a free printable flyer ideal for handing out to neighbors and posting on bulletin boards at local businesses. But if you want an even higher impact sign – one that can be noticed and read from inside a speeding car – consider making posters as well. Read on to learn how.

How to Make a Successful Poster for a Lost Dog, Cat, or Other Pet

According to Albrecht, knowing the rule of “FIVE + FIVE + FIFTY-FIVE” is your guidepost for creating successful missing pet posters.

Never heard of the FIVE + FIVE + FIFTY-FIVE rule? It’s a pretty handy formula created by the team at Missing Animal Response Network: At a typical intersection, you have only five seconds and five words to get your message across to drivers who are passing through the area (at 55 mph) where your pet is missing.

Keeping the FIVE + FIVE + FIFTY-FIVE rule top of mind, we have several important tips to follow as you set to work creating the posters:

1. Use Large Poster Board and Lettering: Plan to purchase a poster that is large enough for drivers to see (and ultimately read) from far distances when in their cars. Missing Animal Response Network recommends selecting from standard poster sizes 22” x 28” or larger and printing letters that are at least 5” in height.

2. Use Fluorescent Colors: When purchasing your poster board, choose a neon color that will best capture drivers’ eyes and attentions at a distance and will encourage them read the words as they get closer. “When people switch from using a small white piece of paper to using a large neon poster, they have an increased chance of finding their missing pet,” Albrecht says.

 Using fluorescent colors will help your pet's poster stand out in a big way.  Photo Credit: Missing Pet Partnership
Using fluorescent colors will help your pet’s poster stand out in a big way.  Photo Credit: Missing Animal Response Network

3. Keep the Information Brief: Attempting to add a lot of information to the poster means you will have to use smaller text to fit everything, which may make the poster more difficult for people to read from afar. Because you only have five seconds on average to get your message across to drivers, you will want to create a poster that quickly captures their attention and conveys key details about your lost pet – so keep the information to the following items:

  • A brief description (e.g. breed, color, sex)
  • Pet name
  • Large photo of your pet
  •  Your contact information

To supplement your eye-catching poster, you also can attach 8.5” x 11” flyers (like the one PawBoost makes for you) that share additional in-depth information about your pet.

Quick tip: Be sure to purposefully exclude from your descriptions at least one identifying feature about your pet should you need someone to verify that your four-legged best friend has in fact been found.

4. Protect Your Lost Pet Poster: Before taking your posters out into the real world, be sure to protect them from the elements by either laminating them, securing them with clear packaging tape, or placing them in other clear protective casing

 Laminating your poster will help it remain legible for longer. Photo Credit: Missing Pet Partnership
Laminating your poster will help it remain legible for longer. Photo Credit: Missing Animal Response Network

Should I Include a Reward on My Lost Pet Poster?

The question of whether to feature a reward is often on the minds of owners as they make their lost pet posters. Albrecht advises against it.

“The brain plays an important role in the lost pet problem and issues we’re dealing with,” Albrecht says. “You’re better off appealing to the people who are out there and want to help as opposed to the people who may be looking for a reward.”

The decision to include a reward is ultimately up to you. A large reward can certainly attract attention to your missing pet; just keep in mind it might not be the type of attention you’re looking for.

 Stay aware: Posting a reward on the poster could make you a target for scammers.  Photo Credit:  Austin Cat Detective

Stay aware: Posting a reward on the lost pet poster could make you a target for scammers.  Photo Credit:  Austin Cat Detective

Location, Location, Location — Where Should I Place My Posters?

Now that you’ve set up your posters with all the important information outlined above, the next step is to plan where to place your posters so that they can work hard to raise awareness in your community.

“Immediately after the pet is missing, identify the major intersections near the escape point,” Albrecht says. “You’ll strategically want to think what are the major streets that people in your neighborhood frequently use and put your posters there.”

The goal is to increase exposure to your posters. For example, you will likely raise more awareness about your lost pet if you place your missing posters at intersections where cars must stop on the way in or out of your neighborhood or at entrances to freeways commonly used for daily commutes.

Though the suggested radius for posting missing posters for dogs is 1-3 miles from the escape point and within a few streets of the escape point for cats, the ideal radius may vary due to pet temperament (skittish dogs, for example, tend to travel further) as well as by length of time the pet has been missing – You will want to start expanding your missing poster range with time as it’s possible your pet could travel further away from the escape point. And, of course, don’t forget to put a poster in front of your home!

In addition to securely fastening your missing posters in highly trafficked areas, Missing Animal Response Network also encourages pet owners to conduct “intersection alerts.” Similar to a car wash fundraiser, intersection alerts are likely to attract more attention from drivers because as you and your lost task pet force draw awareness to your search by standing at these intersections and waving your posters.

 Place your posters near the escape point and in high traffic areas to increase exposure.  Photo Credit: Missing Pet Partnership
Place your posters near the escape point and in high traffic areas to increase exposure.  Photo Credit: Missing Animal Response Network

Have you lost or found a pet?

Make sure to report it to PawBoost! It’s free and takes only seconds.


  • Thank you for this valuable advice.😍

  • Thank you so much!!! Pawboost has helped way more than I could imagine…. You make it possible for furbabies to make it back home!!! I know my Kitty Saylor boy is thankful and so am I !!!!!!!

  • Ok, This helps in how to create a good sign!

  • Thank you so much for this! I’m buying my poster board at the dollar store now,
    and about to start on the missing dog posters for my dog; MJ- who went missing from the corner of 5th and Brazos AUSTIN TEXAS late Thursday night—
    I honestly don’t know what I would do right now if it were not for the support I’m getting here.

  • Thank you for poster tips i will replace my little posters for my cat missing near south titus street in ithaca ny, tomorrow!

  • Thank you!!! Vital information that is not thought of because of the overwhelming feelings of wondering of what your furbay is going thru out alone in this big world!..Thank you !!

  • Thank you so much for your support and information regarding effective posters! Just when I feel like I’m losing ground when it comes to finding Furby, I see something useful and valuable on Pawboost that gives me encouragement. Furby disappeared 14 days ago, and I am
    distraught and saddened beyond belief, but I feel hopeful
    when I read your tips.! Thank you!

  • Your advice is good; but your posters aren’t good examples. Yes def the 5-5-55 rule, but the phone number should be much larger. We have found most effective posters are in the large neon, large lettering, lost etc scared don’t chase description or pic and phone # – all big that people can see from afar. Everything else is great!!

    • I think you might be missing the underlying premise behind the 5-5-55 rule. The reason why you want to use a smaller font for your telephone number is because (unless you have a photographic memory) most people need to first make a conscious decision to exert the effort that is required to actually memorize a telephone number! Also keep in mind that in the age we live in of smartphones rare is the individual who can remember even some of their closest friends and families telephone numbers; actually memorizing telephone numbers is a thing of the past, it’s not as common as it used to be. Even then, very few people are going to be able to memorize a telephone number they just happened to glance at for five seconds while they were driving through an intersection at 55km/hr+.

      So you don’t want the numbers to distract people and take attention away from the five words you want to stick in their heads which convey as much information as possible about your lost pet so that if they do come across them they will instantly recognize that pet is your lost pet. Unless your phone number is 1800LOSTDOG I promise you that no matter how big you make the numbers if someone does come across your pet they will likely still need to return to the intersection that they seen your poster in order to retrieve your telephone number and by not mentioning a reward, you are psychologically reaching out to people who are going to be empathetic to your situation and will want to help if they can so they will almost certainly return to obtain your phone number.

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