AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas lawmaker is reintroducing a bill that would strengthen fire suppression systems at kennels after a 2021 tragedy at a Georgetown pet facility.
State Rep. James Talarico, D-Austin, filed House Bill 66 ahead of the Texas legislative session officially beginning on Tuesday. He previously filed a similar version of this proposal during the third special session in 2021.
In a statement shared with KXAN Friday, Talarico explained, “I’m introducing this legislation to protect our pets and ensure tragedies like the one we witnessed in Georgetown never happen again. I’m ready to work with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to protect our loyal companions. House Bill 66 will require all Texas dog kennel operators who don’t have a staff member on-site 24/7 to install fire alarms and sprinkler systems. The fire in Georgetown was gut-wrenching and preventable. The time to stop the next disaster is now.”
The legislation would require kennel owners in Texas to either install and maintain a smoke detection system in each of its buildings or guarantee that an employee will remain on the premises at all times when dogs and cats are boarded there. It would also make it a misdemeanor for violating the requirements contained in this proposal.
According to the bill, the system would have to include a sprinkler and instantly alert employees along with the local fire department.
Talarico filed the initial version of this bill after a fire killed 75 animals at Georgetown’s Ponderosa Pet Resort in September 2021. Firefighters reported no one was at the boarding facility when the fire started. Afterward, a petition with more than 17,000 signatures called for more fire safety measures to be mandated and enforced in pet boarding facilities.
It remains unclear at this time if the bill will be more successful during the 88th Texas legislative session, which starts on Jan. 10.