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Petco Sued After Boy Dies From Rat-Bite Fever
Chain accused of negligence in death of boy, 10
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2014 1:57 AM CST
This undated photo released by Gomez Trial Attorneys shows Aidan Pankey and one of his pet rats.    (AP Photo/Courtesy Pankey Family)

(Newser) – A California family whose 10-year-old son died of rat-bite fever just two weeks after he brought home a male companion for his female pet rat is taking Petco to court for alleged negligence. Aidan Pankey died hours after being rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains last summer, but the family waited for lab results to confirm that the rat was infected before filing the lawsuit, their lawyer tells the AP. The lawsuit accuses the national pet store chain of failing to have adequate procedures in place to prevent this kind of tragedy. Petco says it is "in the process of investigating these claims and will respond appropriately when we have more information."

"I put him to bed after a day at the doctor’s office and the next thing I knew it just was too late," Aidan's grandmother, who describes the death as "soul-biting," tells ABC. "I went into his room and he couldn’t speak. He was unstable on his feet. I got him down to my room and he collapsed on the floor. I called 911 because it was scaring me that his breathing was shallow and he seemed to be losing his ability to function." The family's lawyer says Aidan's parents are devastated by the death of their only son and want to raise awareness of the disease. Experts say there have only been a few hundred documented cases of rat-bite fever in the US, though it may be underdiagnosed and cases appear to be on the increase with the growing popularity of pet rats. Per the CDC, people can contract rat-bite fever from bites or scratches from infected rodents, or even just by handling an animal with the disease without a bite or scratch.

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Feb 27, 2014 3:17 AM CST
iq-145. What is Petco supposed to say? The fact that people buy rats...I suppose iq1.45 knows of a screening test for rat fever? Or is it just fine to sue everyone for anything? My favorite is the ten year old boy that was shoving gravel into the gas tank of the neighbors car, parked in their driveway, that was horribly burned when it exploded. Of course the car owner was successfully sued for having his car parked outside as an "attractive nuisance". A bus crashed off of the Golden Gate Bridge into the water with 50 lawyers on an outing. All were killed. The Headlines screamed; "Crying Shame in Lawyer Death Crash; two empty seats." It would have also been appropriate if those seats had been filled with the dishonest grubbing clients who will do anything and say anything to cheat someone else out of their hard earned money.
Feb 26, 2014 9:59 PM CST
Petco says it is "in the process of investigating these claims and will respond appropriately when we have more information." They seem so cold about it...
Feb 26, 2014 6:29 PM CST
Somewhere Ted Nugent dropped his guns long enough to pen the words to a new song.