In Taiwan, smartphones are a dog's best friend

By , IDG News Service |  Personal Tech, smartphones, SPCA

Taiwan has come a long way since then and the number of shelters and rescue groups has grown. But McCormack joined with Beki Hunt, and Connie and Annie Chiang to start the SPCA to focus on putting a stop to animal cruelty.

"We wanted to start an animal welfare group that’s different," says Connie Chiang, campaigns director at the Taiwan SPCA. "There’s no other animal group in Taiwan that focuses on investigations."

Smartphones have amplified the impact of their small team. None of the SPCA workers can be in the office all the time because there's too much to do. And since it's important to update their websites, they need phones to upload pictures on the go and check for posts on Facebook.

"We post a lot of our adoption cases and events on Facebook and we get a lot of attention there," Connie says. "Adoptions can be really fast if we get photos up on the website quickly."

Anyone who meets McCormack will get the hard sell to adopt a dog, complete with pictures on his smartphone.

"We just took in this new dog. Look at him. His name is TouDo. Isn't he cute? You need a dog in your life, Dan, everybody does," he said recently.

They even found that smartphones were a good way to raise funds.

Taiwanese vendor HTC donated several of its latest handsets to the group, including one that was raffled off to raise funds. It netted over NT$150,000 (US$4,865), despite having a retail price less than one fifth that amount.

"The HTC Desire phone wasn’t out yet so there was a lot of interest," says Annie Chiang, marketing director at Taiwan SPCA. "The final winner was a vet that supports us, so it was great."

Others in Taiwan's technology sector are also helping. The only free animal hospital in Taipei was built by a Taiwanese tech mogul who has been much reviled in the press lately.

Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn (the trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry), was accused by media of running "suicide factories" in China because a number of workers leapt to their deaths in recent months.

Never mind that the suicide rate at these massive complexes is far below the national average in China. Foxconn makes iPhones and iPods, so with "suicide" and "iPhone" in the headline the stories were sure to get attention.

The SPCA and other groups convinced Gou to open a hospital for neutering strays and healing injured animals. A neutering hospital helps keep a lid on the stray population. Gou was involved in the matter personally, despite running a company with more than a million workers worldwide.

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