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75 dogs die in Georgetown Ponderosa Pet Resort fire

Georgetown Fire Department Chief John Sullivan updates the media on a fire at Ponderosa Pet Resort on Sunday. (GFD/Facebook)

Around 75 dogs died in a fire Saturday night at Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown, according to the Georgetown Fire Department, leaving dozens of owners to mourn the losses of their furry companions.

The fire department arrived on the scene less than five minutes after 911 calls started flooding in at 10:56 p.m. At their arrival, they found flames and clouds of smoke, according to GFD Chief John Sullivan.

Twenty-five firefighters were on the scene, hoping to save as many lives as possible, initially trying to open some ventilation and control the smoke, though they were unable to save any dogs. Sullivan said his heart goes out to the families of the victims of the fire.

"I've been doing this for 29 years and this is the first incident that I've had where we've lost so many pets," Sullivan said. "I hate to use that term because, to me, a pet is a lot more than a pet—it is the closest friend. I wish I could convey my internal emotions adequately. I just wish I could go back in time to make it better."

Families of the fallen pets, who are believed to have died from smoke inhalation, have created a memorial outside the pet resort's fence complete with flowers, photos, notes and beloved toys of their friends.

No people were discovered at the scene—Ponderosa's boarding policies state that the staff feels that pets sleep better at night when no employees are there, so the pets are left unattended at night.

The fire department is still working to discover what caused the fire. Despite fire and smoke damage to the inside, the outer metal exterior survived the blaze. Based on the type of construction and occupancy type, the building was not required to have a sprinkler system.

"Quite frankly, I view my personal pet as probably my closest confidant, friend and the one that doesn't judge, so my heart just breaks," Sullivan said.

The fire claimed the lives of dog duo Bunny and Clyde, leaving owners and newlywed couple Don and Pam Richard devastated and angry KXAN reports, saying they wouldn't have left the dogs had they known they would be left unattended at night.

The Richard family is planning to petition the city of Georgetown, making it so that animals in professional care are never left unattended again.


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