A fire at a Texas pet care center has killed all of the 75 dogs being housed there. 

On Saturday, around 11 p.m., 25 firefighters responded to a 911 call about a fire that ripped through the Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown, north of Austin.

Firefighters, who reached the scene in five minutes, initially decided to save as many lives as possible. They entered the building and opened some ventilation to control the smoke. However, they were unable to save any of the dogs that were trapped inside without human supervision, Georgetown Fire Department Chief John Sullivan was cited as saying by KVUE-TV.

"I'm shocked. 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. And, again, I hate to use that term because, to me, a pet is a lot more than a pet. It is the closest friend. And I wish I could convey my internal emotions adequately," Sullivan said.

According to him, several of the dead dogs weren’t burned and appeared to have succumbed to smoke inhalation. Many city workers, including a cop who recently died from COVID-19, had their dogs housed at the pet center. 

"My heart just dropped when I got the address and knew exactly what location we were going to because, quite frankly, I view my personal pet as my closest confidant, friend and the one who doesn’t judge," Sullivan said, adding that the deaths were not "any less tragic" because they were animals. 

Currently, officials are working with the Ponderosa Pet Resort’s owner to identify the dogs and return their remains to their owners. 

It's not clear how the fire started or if any measurement such as sprinklers or fire alarm was in place. "A sprinkler would not be required in a building like this," Sullivan said, reported KXAN.

The dogs were left alone in the facility overnight. "We do not have staff on-site 24/hours a day. We believe that pets sleep better at night when everything is dark, peaceful and quiet," stated the Ponderosa Pet Resort on its website. "We do however, have security systems and closed circuit video monitoring systems in place as added security."

Don and Pam Richard, whose two puppies Bunny and Clyde died in the fire, told KXAN that leaving that many animals without a staff member on site was negligent. They said that they would have never left the puppies at the facility if they knew so many animals were being housed in that building.

I have to rescue them because if I don't, they will die for sure," says Zhi of the nearly 8,000 dogs he has taken in Dogs in Crates | Representational Image Photo: AFP / Hector RETAMAL