SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- A push to ensure that family pets are not abandoned has been thrust into high gear here as waves of families begin PCSing due to a garrison closure set for the fall of 2014.

"Pets are a part of the family, they are not property," said Capt. Andrew Schrader, the Schweinfurt Veterinary Treatment Facility officer in charge. "They are creatures so they need to be cared for -- it is a responsibility."

In the past when a large number of families PCSed from an installation because it was closing or units relocated, pet abandonment was a major issue, according to a number of U.S. Army-Europe installation lessons learned presentations.

"We want to prevent pet abandonment through awareness," said Schrader. "We want to provide the community with an infrastructure just in case an animal does get abandoned or left behind."

The VTF here hopes to match those who are unable to care for their pet and would like to place them up for adoption with those who are looking to add a new member to their family. They have provided information on pets available for adoption and posted those animals here.

"We are also working hand in hand with a local tierheim to mitigate the situation and prevent pet abandonment from becoming a big problem," said Schrader. "We are researching ways to post animals to the local German community."

Tierheims are pet shelters in Germany. There is only one in the immediate Schweinfurt area and strict jurisdiction and capacity regulations apply.

While initial infrastructure is underway, teachers from the Schweinfurt Elementary/Middle School are volunteering to foster some of these animals, Schrader said. Because the vet clinic is not equipped or staffed to serve as a shelter, Schrader hopes to temporarily pair abandoned pets with willing teachers until a permanent owner is found.

"Some of these last-minute situations, we find out that a pet will be abandoned or has been abandoned and doesn't have a place to go," said Schrader. "The teachers help foster some of these pets for a short term until they can find a permanent home."

Schrader stated abandonment of a pet is an animal cruelty problem. It is completely inhumane, completely unacceptable, he said.

"Our goal is to prevent any pet from being abandoned," said Schrader.

If you or someone you know is looking to adopt an animal tell them to check out the Pets Available for Adoption page so no pet is left behind.