WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — More than 20 pet owners who lost their dogs in the Ponderosa Pet Resort fire in September are suing the pet boarding company and its owner.
At least 75 animals boarded at the facility were killed after a fire broke out the night of Sept. 18. There was no staffing at the pet resort overnight at the time, and the facility didn’t have a fire suppression system.
The lawsuit, sent to KXAN by Attorney Ard Ardalan on Friday, says the fire sparked from an “electrical device or outlet.”
The pet owners claim they were deceived by Ponderosa and owner Phillip Paris, saying the company “made promises about 24-hour surveillance and security systems that would keep the animals safe at night.” They’re seeking more than $1 million in damages.
Ardalan said in a statement Friday they’re hoping to hold more kennel owners accountable.
“We are still mourning the loss of the dogs at the Ponderosa Pet Resort and hope that this lawsuit will help encourage kennel owners across the United States to take fire safety seriously,” Ardalan said, in part. “In the coming months, we hope to get answers as to how the fire started and what could have been done to prevent it. We also seek to hold Mr. Paris and Ponderosa Pet Resort accountable, although that process has only just started. We hope that our efforts will help prevent these kinds of senseless tragedies.”
At the time of the incident, Paris called the fire “accidental” and said, “I feel [the pet owners’] heartbreak intensely.” He previously disclosed 59 families total had lost their pets in the fire.
KXAN has reached out to Paris for comment on the lawsuit. We will update this story when we hear back.
Attorney Ardalan says while the lawsuit was submitted in Williamson County Friday, it hasn’t been accepted by the clerk yet.
Georgetown’s Animal Services Department previously said Ponderosa was operating without a kennel permit, but the business did have a separate permit to operate. Even if Ponderosa had a kennel permit, it wouldn’t have required a fire suppression system or 24/7 staffing onsite, according to the city.