GEORGETOWN, Texas – The city of Georgetown is recommending updates to the city’s fire code after a pet boarding facility caught fire, killing all 75 dogs that were inside.
Recommended updates include requiring smoke alarms and sprinklers systems in kennels and pet boarding facilities, regardless of their size, a city official said Tuesday.
According to the Georgetown Fire Chief, John Sullivan, the Ponderosa Pet Resort facility was not required to have smoke alarms or a sprinkler system because of its square feet, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Businesses that are at least 10,000 square feet are required to have a sprinkler system, but the pet resort was 8,125 square feet.
The Fire Department was notified about the fire shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday. Sullivan said firefighters arrived within five minutes and found “the worst possible scenario,” with heavy smoke and fire coming from the building.
They were unable to save any of the dogs. No people were present.
The pet facility was last inspected in 2015 and found no violations. It was considered a low-risk business, so it was inspected only three to five years, Sullivan said.
City officials said Ponderosa Pet Resort had a permit to operate but did not have a kennel permit. The city’s kennel permit has requirements about food, water, sanitary conditions and health, but doesn’t require sprinklers, smoke alarms or around-the-clock staffing.
The city is asking for residents to comment about the fire code and a petition has been started asking for state legislation to require smoke alarms and fire suppression systems in animal boarding facilities.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Eric Torberson, chairman of the animal law section for the State Bar of Texas, said owners will only be able to sue for the “fair market value” of the pet, not for the emotional loss since there are no state laws governing animal boarding facilities.
The owner of Ponderosa Pet Resort, Phillip Paris, did not respond to the American-Stateman's request for comment.