Postcards or business cards can be used in addition to posters and flyers to get the word out to more people. They are also very useful in cases where you are unable to put up posters due to zoning laws or you do not have the time or manpower to do a door-to-door distribution of flyers. Postcards are most effective for lost cats since they are most frequently found closer to home and it can be critical to get the word out to every person because cats may hide out and only be seen by a few people. For an escaped indoor-only cat, you could send cards out to only 1/4 mile – 1/2 mile radius from your home in a urban or suburban area. In a rural area, you may want to go out to 1 mile or more. For a missing outdoor-access cat, you should really start with a 1 to 1 1/2 mile radius in urban or suburban areas and at least 3 miles in a rural area.
There are several different options for creating and mailing lost pet cards depending on how quickly you want them sent out.
Companies that will design and mail lost pet cards
All of these companies claim to be able to get the postcard in the mail the day after the order is made, and they will actually be delivered within 1-3 days (depending on USPS postal service time). Please note that if you live in an area with apartment buildings, some of these companies will skip apartment complexes or only mail to every 3rd apartment unless you request otherwise.
- Pet Harbor – Prices start at $399 for 500 postcards or $599 for 1,000. If you don’t at first see the postcard option, scroll down under the menu on the bottom left side. Better Business Bureau listing (I’m not 100% sure this is the correct Pet Harbor).
- Lost Pet Cards – Prices start at $550 for 1,000 postcards (minimum purchase).
Design them yourself
Vistaprint provides some easy to use templates to create a lost pet card. I would recommend using one with “a logo/photo area.” I was able to purchase a single-sided card at $74.99 for 1,000 cards ($0.08 per card) plus shipping ($10 general to $30 rush). Vistprint also has an option to create a mailing list and they will send the cards out for you. Mailing 1,000 cards cost an addition $440 plus $50 for rush mailing (4-8 days). Total estimated cost for 1,000 postcards = $565. (Note: their online mailing distribution tool has a minimum 1 mile radius, so I’m not sure how they determine who to mail to if you select less than the number of addresses in this area.)
If you want to create the postcards yourself, you can use a company like Vistaprint.com, Staples.com or another copy company such as these. Alternatively, you could purchase blank postcards such as these Avery Postcards (05689) from Amazon.com or Staples. Templates for the cards can be downloaded from Avery.com Postcard Templates.
Mail them using your local US Postal Service
If you create your own postcard or flyer, you could either purchase a mailing list or use USPS Every Door Direct Mail. Use the EDDM mapping tool to estimate the cost of mailing to different delivery routes. If you plan to use Every Door Direct Mail, your postcards need to meet certain specifications, so make sure you confirm the requirement before designing them yourself. You may also have the option of mailing flyers rather than postcards. Mailing lists can be purchased online such as from American Clearing House, which offers a map-based selection of addresses. I was able to select all addresses within 1/2 mile of my home (1,142 records) for $75.
Lost Pet Business Cards
Business cards can be a great addition to any search. Since they take a while to get made, they are most often used with longer term searches. People are more likely to hold onto a business card than a flyer and may even keep it in their wallet or purse.
Companies like Vistaprint or Staples.com can be used to design a business card or you could buy a template and print them off yourself. Leave them at businesses, distribute them door-to-door or at an event or put them in business card pockets attached to lost pet posters in areas that people walk.