What is a Pet Amber Alert?
Pet Amber Alert companies offer one or more of the following services:
- Automated phone messages to people that live in the area where your pet went missing.
- A flyer faxed and/or emailed to local vets, shelters and animal related businesses.
- Boosted Facebook posts. These appear as sponsored posts on the Facebook timelines of people that live in the area where your pet went missing. This may be a 1 to 10 mile radius depending on the area lost and/or company used.
- Other social media ads such as Twitter or Instagram.
- Paid Google Ads. These appear as ads on webpages visited by people that live in the area where your pet went missing.
- Postcards mailed to people living in the area where your pet went missing.
IMPORTANT - Please Read!
Pet Amber Alert services DO NOT replace the need for other (often more effective) search tactics. Many claim high success rates, but these do not necessarily mean that pets were found using their services.
If you can easily afford it, a phone or online amber alert can be a great extra resource to get the word out about your lost pet quickly. BUT it is NOT a replacement for posters, flyers and other local advertising.
Using a pet amber alert service is also NOT a replacement for visiting and calling local shelters, rescues or veterinarians. I always recommend going in person or talking to someone so you can be sure that your lost pet report was received and shared.
If you use any amber alert or lost pet database, be sure to add them to your “safe sender” list and/or check your spam folder periodically. If people attempt to reach you, this important email could end up in your spam folder and never be seen!
Better yet, make sure that people responding to your ad can reach you via phone and not just through the online service. If you don't want to share your personal number, get a free Google Voice number instead. Learn how here.
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Phone Call and Online Pet Amber Alert Companies
There are LOTS of online sites providing pet amber alert services these days. These are some of my favorites.
These are the same company and share a lost pet database. You can submit a FREE lost pet report to their database and they will email or fax a lost pet flyer to at least the closest 25 shelters, vets, rescues groups and other animal related businesses. After you submit your listing, you can login and view a list of where your flyer was sent.
You can upgrade your listing for a small fee such as an extended listing or adding your phone number or a reward amount. These add-ons come with a 30 day money back guarantee if your pet is not found. Phone call services are an additional fee and are non-refundable.
For more information on how their services work, check out their Frequently Asked Questions (located at the bottom of their site). I definitely recommend using their free alert service, but I'm not yet sure of the effectiveness of phone call alerts in general.
If you are interested in a phone call alert service, this company is cheaper than Find Toto. Phone call services are most effective for lost pets that are easily visible such as a friendly lost dog or cat.
If you are going to use a paid service, FindToto.com provides phone call alerts, boosted Facebook posts and sponsored Google Ads all within the alert package. According to their website, phone call alerts go to both mobile and home phones.
The boosted Facebook post appears as a sponsored post on the timeline of people living within the area where your pet went missing. The radius may be from one to 10 miles depending on the density of households. The Google Ad appears on webpages visited by people who live in the area where your pet went missing. They also provide Twitter and Instagram ads.
A completely free service. The NoKillNetwork.org will send automatic alerts to local shelters, rescues, veterinarians and other pet organizations. I would suggest posting to this site and LostMyDoggie or LostMyKitty, but don't post to them at the same time.
Cat-finder.com will create a boosted Facebook post that shows up on the Facebook timelines of people that live in the area where your cat went missing. This one is better than a lot of other programs because you can set the search area starting as small as 1/2 mile.
Boost Your Own Facebook Post
If you are at all tech savvy, you may want to create your own boosted Facebook post to advertise your missing pet. This will usually cost less than any pet amber alert company. If you create a Facebook page to advertise your pet, then people that see your post may also LIKE your page. This way you can continue to advertise to these people for free and provide updates and keep them engaged in your search.
You can learn how to Boost a Facebook Post for a Lost Pet here.
Lost Pet Postcard Companies
Lost pet postcards are a good option if:
- Posters are not allowed in your town/city
- You are unable to go door-to-door to distribute flyers
- Your cat has been missing for more than a month and you've tried everything else
The cost for lost pet postcards is around $0.55 to $1 per card with a minimum purchase of 500 to 1,000 cards.
LostPetCards.com exclusively offers lost pet postcards. From my experience these are delivered very quickly.
This online database (formerly Pet Harbor) offers lost pet postcards. If you submit a lost pet listing, you will have the option to purchase postcards. They also send email notifications for found pets. Unfortunately, few shelters/rescues are in their database.
Companies to Avoid
These companies are not scams but seem to have a lot of complaints. I would at least check their current Better Business Bureau listing before using them.
- PawBoost - BBB Listing. This is a popular company so a free listing may still be worth doing. However, I don't generally recommend their paid listings.
- Pet Amber Alert - BBB Listing. This company has a lot of customer complaints.
If paying for online advertising, make sure that the company is focusing on an area that makes sense. Some companies like PawBoost and Tabby Tracker may use a 10-mile radius. This makes sense for a lost dog in a rural area, but would be a poor choice for most escaped indoor-only cats.