Georgetown pet-boarding facilities not required to establish fire suppression plans in animal health standards

Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 19:21:09-04

Georgetown City Manager David Morgan addressed the ordinance and occupancy requirements of pet-boarding facilities after a fire killed 75 dogs at the Ponderosa Pet Resort on Saturday.

The city manager's message to the community said that while the city does have a kennel permit ordinance, it does not have requirements that would include fire suppression. Morgan said obtaining a kennel permit does not mean businesses are required to have sprinklers, smoke alarms, or 24/7 staffing.

"We have had a heck of a week here in our community with the tragic fire at the Ponderosa Pet resort on Saturday," said Morgan. "We are working to complete the fire investigation. We are also working to support the families who have lost their beloved pets who are absolutely part of their family."

The investigation includes watching video recordings and conducting interviews, according to the city.

"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," said the City of Georgetown. "The business has confirmed 59 families lost loved ones Saturday."

First responders report that a majority of the kennels lost in the fire only had one occupant, according to the City of Georgetown; a few of the larger kennels had two dogs, and several kennels were also unoccupied.

"We are working through recommended updates to our fire codes, and expect to bring those before City Council this fall," said the city. "Relevant to pet-boarding facilities, we expect to recommend adding a section about animal occupancy into our City fire code, which may require smoke alarms and/or sprinkler systems in kennels and pet-boarding facilities regardless of square footage."

The city said it has no reason to believe the facility did not meet animal health standards.

"Codes relevant to occupancy limits are subjective to allow for flexibility based on the size of the space and the size of the animals," said the city.

The city said Ponderosa Pet Resort did have a permit to operate, but failure to obtain a permit does not mean that businesses cannot operate.

"Because we haven’t been enforcing the kennel permitting ordinance, we do not expect to issue a citation to any of the three businesses we know of, including Ponderosa, for not having a kennel permit," said the city in the announcement. "But we want to reiterate: Obtaining a kennel permit does not require fire suppression."

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