Sometimes these notices are helpful in reuniting owners and their pets, but it's by no means a sure thing.
There are several important steps -- beyond placing fliers -- that can help even the odds of finding a lost friend.
"The first thing you should do is alert the shelter," said Midge Grinstead, executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society, 1805 E. 19th St. "Sometimes we'll have an animal for three days before people will call to see if it's here.
"We also recommend you come down here and look, because everybody's description of an animal is going to be different -- especially if your pet's not a purebred."
The next step is a door-to-door neighborhood search. Carry recent photos of the pet and call out its name continually.
"I recommend a three-block, door-to-door search (on foot), then a six- to eight-block search in your car," Grinstead said.
Next, call veterinary offices in the area and give them a complete description of the pet, or even a photo. The reason for doing this is that many people who pick up a stray animal will take it to their personal vet, especially if it's injured.
Another option is to contact taxi and bus services in Lawrence. Their drivers go all over the city and have been known to spot a stray pet from time to time, Grinstead said.
Also, consider placing a classified ad about the lost pet with a brief description.
But the thing that may best prevent a lost pet may be "microchipping," according to Grinstead. This involves the insertion of a microchip -- the size of a grain of rice -- underneath the fatty tissue between an animal's shoulder blades.
When a stray pet with a chip is brought to the Lawrence Humane Society, staffers use a hand-held scanner to read its computer code. Using the code, the staff can look up the owner's telephone number and address in a computerized area registry of pets with microchips.
The humane society places microchips in all pets it adopts out to the community, Grinstead said, and adds the pets to the local registry.
For $12.50, people who adopt from the shelter can also have their pets listed on a computerized national registry.
"It's wonderful -- the quickest way to get your pet home," Grinstead said. "If it's chipped, there's no question about whose pet it is."
The humane society can refer pet owners to area veterinarians who are equipped to place microchips in pets.
-- Staff writer Jim Baker can be reached at 832-7173.