Infected Rat Bite Kills Boy; Parents Suing Petco For Damages

An infected rat bite, which led to the tragic death of a 10-year-old San Diego boy, has resulted in a lawsuit against Petco, the company which sold the rat.

The male rat was bought for Aidan Pankey by his grandmother as a present for her only grandson. Aidan wanted the rat as a mate for the female rat which he already owned. At the end of May 2013 Aidan took the rat home.

On June 11 he woke from his sleep with severe stomach pains and a fever. He was reported to have been pale and weak, and was only just able to walk. Aidan died the following morning from a bacterial infection he allegedly got from the infected rat.

The family’s attorney, John Gomez, spoke to the AP about the lawsuit filed against Petco on Monday in San Diego, which is seeking an unspecified amount for the suffering endured by the Pankey family.

He said the main drive of the suit is to make sure that a tragedy like this doesn’t occur again: “It’s a means to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Apparently there was some breakdown in procedures. They want tighter controls,” Gomez said.

The lawsuit itself claims that the rat did not seem to be infected, but that Petco should have been fully aware of the rat’s health having followed the correct testing procedures. The Petco lawsuit claims that the company was negligent for not posting adequate warnings about the potential risks from rodents.

Infected rat

Petco responded to the infected rat incident confirming that it is: “in the process of investigating these claims and will respond appropriately when we have more information.”

In an official statement they expressed their deepest condolences to the Pankey family: “We are deeply saddened by the Pankey family’s tragic loss.The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family’s concerns very seriously.”

It remains to be seen what the outcome of the lawsuit against Petco will be, with the hope that tragedies like the death of Aidan Pankey can be avoided in the future.