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City will not fine Ponderosa Pet Resort for operating without kennel permit

“We have not been actively educating about or enforcing the kennel permitting ordinance – something we know we need to improve and are working diligently toward.”

GEORGETOWN, Texas — The City of Georgetown will not issue a citation to the Ponderosa Pet Resort for operating without a kennel permit, following a fire at the facility that killed 75 dogs on Saturday.

The City said only one in four kennels operating in Georgetown has a kennel permit, which regulates requirements such as food, water, sanitary conditions and health. It does not require sprinklers, smoke alarms or 24/7 staffing.

Ponderosa Pet Resort did, however, have permit to operate, according to the City.

“We have not been actively educating about or enforcing the kennel permitting ordinance – something we know we need to improve and are working diligently toward,” the City said in a statement on Wednesday. “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. But we want to reiterate: Obtaining a kennel permit does not require fire suppression. We have an active, dedicated animal control team who respond to any concerns about animal health and safety.”

One grieving owner who lost two dogs, Dempsey and Rooney, said this makes him wonder what other ordinances the City is not enforcing.   

"If they're not enforcing it on a place of where pets are staying there, are we enforcing this on food establishments, or what's going missing here?" said Jeremy Rogers. 

Rogers said he knows a $500 fine wouldn't bring his pets, who were family, back, but there will be some change.

In the aftermath of the tragic fire, Georgetown is working through recommended updates to its fire codes and expects to bring those before City Council this fall.

Recommendations include adding a section about animal occupancy into the City fire code, which may require smoke alarms and/or sprinkler systems in kennels and pet-boarding facilities regardless of square footage. A comment box has been set up on the City of Georgetown website for members of the public to provide feedback on the fire code updates.

According to first responders, the majority of the kennels at the facility had one dog, while a few larger kennels had two dogs. Several kennels were unoccupied.

“Based on calls for service rendered at the facility since it opened, we have no reason to believe the facility did not [meet] our animal health standards,” the City said. “Codes relevant to occupancy limits are subjective to allow for flexibility based on the size of the space and the size of the animals.”

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