GEORGETOWN, Texas - The City of Georgetown says that the Ponderosa Pet Resort is not expected to face fines or penalties due to the facility not having a kennel permit as required by city ordinance.
The resort caught fire Saturday night, killing all 75 dogs inside the facility. The Georgetown Fire Department responded to a fire and found the entire building engulfed in flames, but despite the quick response time from GFD, the dogs inside all died from smoke inhalation.
According to the city, the Ponderosa Pet Resort did not have a kennel permit as required by city ordinance, which regulates requirements such as food, water, sanitary conditions, and health, but does not require sprinklers, smoke alarms or 24/7 staffing.
Only one kennel in city limits has a kennel permit, but the city says four businesses are currently operating that would fall under the ordinance. Kennel permits are required by city ordinance to be renewed annually.
The city says that it has not enforced the permit requirement, but is currently working to develop a process to obtain a kennel permit and then will focus on increasing awareness and education about the requirement before enforcing it.
The Ponderosa Pet Resort had last been inspected in 2015 by the fire department which found no violations to the fire code at the time. It had not been inspected since as the use of the facility was considered "a low fire risk" and the use and structure had not changed since 2015.
The city says that the fire department tries to perform inspections for general Georgetown businesses like the Ponderosa Pet Resort every three years. In response to the pet resort fire, Fire Chief John Sullivan has asked staff to review these practices and look into changing the frequency for inspections on animal-housing facilities.
As the building housing, the pet resort has had many uses since it was built in 1962, city fire codes over the years have not required smoke alarms or sprinklers in it.
The city is expected to recommend adding a section concerning animal occupancy to the city fire code, which might also require smoke alarms and/or sprinkler systems in kennels and pet-boarding facilities regardless of square footage. These amendments are expected to be presented to the Georgetown City Council in fall 2021.
If adopted, the City Council can apply the regulations retroactively to existing facilities. The city says new codes could be in place in early 2022.
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