Any devoted dog parent that’s been faced with the decision to board their pets knows the struggle to find a place where they’ll be happy, well-cared-for, and safe while in the care of others.
Today, the owners of 75 dogs are mourning the tragic deaths of their beloved dogs when fire broke out overnight while they were being boarded at a Texas pet resort.
Approximately 75 dogs perished in a fire at the Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown, Texas on Saturday, September 18. The Georgetown Fire Department and The City of Georgetown confirmed all the animals killed were dogs being boarded at the facility.
Firefighters began arriving around 10:56pm on Saturday night. There were no humans at the resort when fire broke out.
Twenty-five firefighters from the Georgetown Fire Department were on-scene less than 5 minutes after 911 calls began pouring in reporting flames at the popular pet resort. Despite the amazingly hasty response, firefighters were unable to save a single dog from the fire.
“It’s hard to accept the fact that we showed up in such a quick fashion, yet were unable to save even one life in this building,” Georgetown Texas Fire Department Chief John Sullivan said.
“I’m shocked. I’ve been doing this for 29 years and this is the first incident that I’ve had where we’ve lost so many pets. And, again, I hate to use that term because, to me, a pet is a lot more than a pet. It is the closest friend. And I wish I could convey my internal emotions adequately,” Sullivan added, “I just wish I could go back in time to make it better.”
Heartbroken dog owners and residents have begun leaving flowers, dog toys, and notes along a fence surrounding the pet resort, creating a makeshift memorial to the many dozens of dogs that tragically died.
Now, the fire department is shifting its focus from saving lives to investigating how and why so many were lost. The department is also assisting in reuniting families with their deceased dogs, an absolutely heartbreaking task for animal lovers and first responders dedicated to saving lives.
Chief Sullivan said investigators will first try to find the origin of the fire, then look at possible causes. The department has brought in arson dogs and is evaluating all possible causes, including electrical and natural causes, as well as reviewing video footage recorded at the resort.
KVUE spoke to several pet owners who lost their dogs in the fire. Korin Hardt, who lost her dog, Sammy, said she has not stopped crying since she got the call. “We’d like to recover his remains, maybe get some answers. What happened, why it happened,” said Hardt, “How can we change it? How can we prevent this in the future? If it’s a law that needs to be changed, then I’ll work on changing the law.”
Nicholas, whose dog Mack died in the fire said he was the sweetest and most loving dog he’s ever owned and he and his wife are devastated. “We know he’s in heaven with all the other good boys and good girls,” he said.
Merritt, whose senior dog, Sailor, passed in the fire told KVUE that she was the best dog anyone could ask for and she never met a stick she didn’t like.
Jenni Signorelli said her dog, Ace was the sweetest little guy and she hopes he’s at peace dreaming about treats and belly rubs.
Because of the age and type of building, and how it was used, sprinklers were not required to be installed. The fire department is looking into which, if any, fire alarm or notification systems were in use.
A Change.org petition has been launched calling for lawmakers to create and enforce mandates for fire safety alarms, sprinkler systems, 24/7 human supervision, and other safety measures to significantly reduce the chance of this happening again and prevent further deaths and losses.