Less than 2% of lost cats and less than 20% of lost dogs are returned to their owners, according to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, a nonprofit organization whose members include the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Veterinary Medical Assn.
Microchips are crucial, but an old-fashioned lost-pet poster can be important too. Making an effective flier is an art unto itself. Six common mistakes to avoid:
Photo selection: If your missing pet has distinctive markings or a memorable shape, a full-body photo is wise. Otherwise, you might simply show the animal's face. When viewed from a passing car, full-body photos can be hard to make out. But a large face photo can grab attention: It's more graphic, easier to see from afar and emotionally compelling.
Text selection: Sans-serif fonts such as Arial allow for bolder letters that are easier to read from afar. Many people put "LOST DOG" in the biggest type, but everyone can infer that these fliers are for a lost pet. A more effective strategy is to put key visual descriptions in the biggest font: "BLACK LAB" or "TERRIER PUPPY." These key words might resonate immediately with passersby and stick in their heads.