A 10-year-old boy has died after being given a pet rat. Aidan Pankey, contracted an infectious disease from his pet rat that was purchased by his grandmother at a Petco Animal Supplies store. A lawsuit was filed by Andrew Pankey, whose son died less than three weeks after the rat was purchased.
A Petco attorney countered as she explained to the jury that “the company hands out literature that warns of the bacteria that the rodents might carry.” Bibianne Fell, the attorney representing the boy’s family claimed that the boy died from a rare disease that the Petco rats can be found to have called “rat-bite fever”. Fell continued on explaining that the symptoms of this disease are often misdiagnosed because they are similar to those of the flu.
Fell explained that 16 other people have gotten very ill since 2003 as a result of rat-bite fever. Yet, Petco continues to sell rats to customers, including children, who continue to get sick. In addition, Petco has not informed customers that they can test the rats “for the disease before they were sold as pets.” In addition, the brochure that Petco provides to customers does not have a clear warning “in a place where people would see it.”
The Petco attorney explained to the jurors that “there are risks with owning any pets” and that the case is a, “sad and tragic situation.” Kimberly Oberrecht, Petco’s attorney, told “jurors they would have to determine if Petco sold a defective product, and whether the company acted reasonably when it found out Aidan died of the infectious disease.” According to Oberrecht, Aidan liked to kiss his rats and bathe with them and that he was not bitten but may have gotten infected “from saliva or some other way.” Petco claimed that RBF is an extremely rare disease that is treatable with antibiotics.
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