Local governments are making progress in getting people to adopt rather than buy pet animals by turning to the tools most often used to connect people these days: social networking Web sites and smartphone applications.
Since the Taipei City Government’s Animal Protection Office launched an app in September last year, nearly 1,000 strays, including dogs, cats and rabbits, have found new homes through the service, the office said.
Using the Mandarin-language app, animal lovers can get real-time information and status on strays awaiting adoption, said Lu Meng-hsian (陸夢賢), a section chief at the office.
“We’d like to promote the idea of adopting animals, rather than buying pets,” he said.
Expressing confidence that the new technology helps match more strays with adopters, Lu said that those interested can either use a hotline or e-mail to get more detailed information after they have found an animal they want to adopt via the app.
Lu also expressed optimism that the new service will increase the number of adoptions by helping attract the attention of potential pet owners, especially among the younger generation who make up the majority of smartphone users.
A total of 3,345 dogs and cats were adopted in Taipei last year, while nearly 3,000 dogs and cats were adopted the previous year, the office said.
Other local governments have also been making efforts to help reduce the number of stray animals by promoting adoption via designated Web sites.
Both the Greater Taichung and Greater Kaohsiung governments have seen increases in stray adoptions in their cities, as public awareness grows, officials said.
With its newly designed Web site, the Greater Taichung Government said 3,253 stray dogs and cats were adopted last year, up 38.4 percent from about 2,300 animals a year ago.
Greater Kaohsiung saw an even bigger jump in the number of adoptions, which more than doubled from 1,685 dogs and cats in 2011 to 3,513 last year.
Despite this progress, there remains an unacceptable number of strays in the country by most estimates, particularly dogs abandoned by their owners.
According to government statistics, there were about 85,000 stray dogs in the nation in 2009, although animal rights activists believe the actual number is much higher.