Dozens of dogs died during an overnight fire at a pet boarding facility in Texas, officials said.
The Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown was engulfed in smoke when firefighters rushed to the building Saturday night. Firefighters attempted to clear smoke from the facility and rescue the pets but none of the 75 dogs inside survived, officials said.
“It is extremely heart-wrenching for us as first responders. My heart just dropped when I got the address and knew exactly what location we were going to because, quite frankly, I view my personal pet as my probably closest confidant, friend and the one that doesn’t judge,” Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan said at a news conference. “My heart just breaks for the people.”
Sullivan said investigators believe the dogs died from smoke inhalation, not flames from the fire. No humans were inside the building during the blaze.
The fire department has not yet determined the cause of the fire nor whether the building had smoke alarms or fire suppression devices installed. State, federal and local code does not require sprinklers in a facility of this size, officials said.
According to a website for Ponderosa Pet Resort, the boarding facility is owned by a former Georgetown police officer who became a dog trainer. The facility is not staffed 24 hours a day but does have “security systems and closed circuit video monitoring systems,” according to the website.
The fire department said the owner has cooperated during the investigation.
“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,” Sullivan said.
Georgetown is north of Austin.