GEORGETOWN, TX – The City of Georgetown has confirmed that the Ponderosa Pet Resort did not have a kennel permit.
According to the City of Georgetown, on Sep. 19, Georgetown Fire Department responded to 911 calls about a fire at 11 p.m. at Ponderosa Pet Resort, 2518 N. Austin Ave. Crews arrived on scene in four and a half minutes. By that time, the facility was engulfed in smoke from the fire. None of the 75 dogs staying at the resort survived. No humans were injured or died in the fire. Twenty-five firefighters responded to the blaze.
“We know each dog that died in this fire was a cherished member of someone’s family, so our heart goes out to all those who were affected by this tragic fire,” said Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan. “We believe the dogs at the facility likely died due to smoke inhalation, not the flames from the fire. We are working as quickly as we can to conclude the investigation, so pets can be returned to their grieving family members as soon as possible.”
Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause and origin of the fire, as well as whether any fire suppression or smoke alarms were present. Federal, state, and Georgetown fire codes do not require sprinkler systems for the use and size of the facility.
The owner of the facility has been cooperative with the investigation. The facility will contact family members of the dogs to make arrangements to retrieve their deceased pets.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing and is expected to take at least into next week as the city continues to review the scene, including watching video recordings and conducting interviews.
Preliminary investigations have given us no information that indicates the cause of the fire was criminal in nature, and it is too soon to comment further. However, the city have reached a point in their investigation to be able to release the pets back to their families. The owner of the facility is working to reunite the dogs with their families at an alternate location. Families should expect to receive an email notification from the owner today.
“As part of this investigation, we have been working closely with the owner, and our combined focus is to reunite families with loved ones,” said Fire Chief John Sullivan. “We understand people want answers. We want answers, too. We have to make sure we’re evaluating all the facts, so we can understand what happened, so we can better prevent this in the future.”
The business has confirmed 59 families lost loved ones Saturday. The City is not confirming identifies of the dogs or their families.
Federal, state, and Georgetown fire codes do not require sprinkler systems for the use and size of the facility. City code, available here, requires sprinklers for occupancies listed/operating as a business of at least 10,000 square feet. The facility involved in the fire has a square footage of 8,125. The City’s requirement supersedes and is more restrictive than national code requirements. City has been reviewing its fire codes, and we expect to present recommended updates to City Council in fall 2021. As a result of this incident, we also will evaluate options that could impose additional safeguards in animal care facilities. The Georgetown Fire Department last inspected the facility in 2015, at which time we found no violations to the fire code. The use of the facility is considered a low fire risk, and the use and structure have not changed since the inspection.
The City of Georgetown Animal Services Department regulates the care and keeping of animals in kennels through a 2013 ordinance linked here. The ordinance regulates such requirements as food, water, sanitary conditions, and health. It does not require sprinklers, smoke alarms, or 24/7 staffing. All kennels within the Georgetown city limits are required to have a kennel permit.
The business from Saturday’s fire does not have a kennel permit; however, the requirements of the permit do not address such safety measures as fire suppression and warning systems. We know this business is not the only one to operate without a kennel permit, and the City is working to increase awareness, education, and enforcement about this requirement.