GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Owners who lost their dogs in the Ponderosa Pet Resort fire are now calling for accountability.
The City of Georgetown’s Animal Services Department oversees kennels and revealed Ponderosa was operating without a permit. The city says failure to get a kennel permit doesn’t mean the business can’t go on, and Ponderosa does have a separate permit to operate.
It was an emotional day Tuesday, as several picked up their dogs’ remains at Argos Pet Cremations with all of this weighing heavy on their hearts. Families took their first step toward closure.
“Dad and Pam could not do this today, but they wanted someone to come and identify their puppies,” Robin Eissler said.
Eissler and her sister picked up the remains of Bunny and Clyde on behalf of their parents.
“[People] want change,” Eissler said.
Through the tears and disbelief, Eissler wants to make sure lives weren’t lost in vain.
“We are working very hard with friends and connections and people… and I’m confident we will have change soon to the laws especially,” Eissler said.
KXAN found out Ponderosa could be fined $500 for operating without a kennel permit, but it won’t be, according to the City of Georgetown. A City of Georgetown spokesperson said, “We will focus on increasing awareness and education about the requirement before we begin enforcing it.”
Georgetown said only one of the four businesses that need a permit in the city limits actually has one.
While the kennel permit would have ensured things like adequate space and animal health regulations would be taken care of, it would not have required a fire suppression system like sprinklers or 24/7 staffing onsite.
The city went on to say because it hasn’t been enforcing kennel permitting, it doesn’t expect to issue a citation to any of the three businesses, including Ponderosa, for not having a kennel permit.
“Our state failed us, our city failed us, our local business failed us and failed our animals terribly,” Eissler said.
As Eissler carries the burden of putting their pets to rest on her mom’s birthday, the city pledges to develop a process to reach out to each kennel that needs a permit and require they be renewed every year.
The city says it is also working to update its fire codes and will bring the new regulations before Georgetown City Council this fall. Rules on animal occupancy could also be added to the city fire code, as well as requirements for smoke alarms and/or sprinkler systems, regardless of square footage.
The city says first responders reported the majority of kennels at Ponderosa had only one occupant. There were a few larger kennels with two dogs, and several kennels left empty.
Georgetown also clarified the current kennel permit’s occupancy limits allow for flexibility based on the size of the space and the size of the animals. It’s required that animals have enough space to move freely. Also, dogs of the opposite sex would not be allowed to share a kennel, unless they’re from the same household and have been spayed or neutered.