GEORGETOWN, TX – After 75 dogs died in a fire at a pet resort, the city of georgetown again wants to cancel another incident like that.
On Tuesday, Georgetown City Council approved moving forward with recommendations that would make it mandatory for pet facilities to have a fire alarm system.
Last September, a fire broke out at the Ponderosa Pet Resort, leaving 59 families without a dog.
“I lost two of my [dogs] back in September. It was devastating not only for me, but also for my family, friends and the community,” said Don Huckins.
On Tuesday, Georgetown City Council met to discuss recommendations put forward by Fire Chief John Sullivan to prevent another tragedy like this.
“I hope and pray this never happens again, but if it does happen again, we have the safeguards in place that we need to put in place to protect all new construction to a very high standard,” said board member Amanda Parr.
If passed, Chief Sullivan says the proposed changes will require all new construction of animal housing or care facilities with more than 50 animals to install an automatic sprinkler system. If a facility plans to have fewer than 50 animals in its care, the code changes and sprinklers are not required. However, other requirements must be met.
According to Chief Sullivan, an automatic sprinkler system is not necessary in animal shelters or care facilities serving 30 or fewer animals if the walls are finished with something that does not burn easily and there is a supervised fire alarm. For facilities with 30 to 50 animals, there must be one hour fire rated construction on both sides of the kennel area boundary walls with finished walls and ceilings and a supervised fire alarm.
There are 59 families who lost their pets in the Ponderosa Pet Resort fire. Many of these owners are speaking out now to make sure things change for future and existing pet facilities so that no more animals are killed.
“Animals are not inanimate objects. They live, breathe, feel beings who are completely dependent on the decisions we make for them, and they deserve humans to be responsible for a modicum of protection. They have no voice. When you know better, you’re supposed to do better, and we know better now,” said Lakelyn Huckins, who lost her dogs in the fire.
Georgetown City Council has approved moving forward with these changes which originally only affected future pet businesses, but they made sure to add a fire code for existing facilities. . If passed, existing pet resorts will have 18 months to install a monitored fire alarm system. Currently, 17 of the 23 establishments covered by this new ordinance do not yet have one.
“For existing businesses, this is a minimum standard, and it’s a standard that people expect, and now they’re going to ask these questions, and I’d like to say that all of our existing businesses have at least minimum an alarm system follow-up,” said Council Member Parr.
Adoption of these amendments will take place later this month.
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