On June 11, 2013, 10-year-old Aidan Pankey from San Diego, California developed a bacterial infection attributed to a bite from his pet rat, purchased at Petco. On June 12, 2013, Aidan was dead. The official cause of death was listed as Streptobacillus Moniliformis infection, otherwise referred to as “Rat-Bite Fever.” Now, the Pankey family has filed suit against the retail giant in hopes of raising awareness of the dangers in owning pet rats.
According to Aidan’s parents, Andrew Pankey and Vanessa Sauer, Petco didn’t provide general warnings regarding the dangers of children owning pet rats. They also argue in their lawsuit that the store failed to monitor the rat’s health and ensure it was safe for sale. Petco contends that they do issue warnings regarding the safety of owning and handling pet rats. As this is an ongoing lawsuit that the courts will ultimately decide, Petco is tight-lipped regarding the case. They did issues an official statement expressing grief, sorrow and sadness over Aidan Pankey’s death.
"At Petco, we follow what we believe are the industry’s strongest standards for companion animal health and welfare, and we require our vendors to meet the same standards for animal care and well-being. We require our live animal suppliers to meet or exceed USDA requirements for the care and treatment of animals, as well as follow strict requirements for housing, feeding, breeding, shipping and caring for sick or injured animals.
“We leave specific testing protocols to be determined by our vendors unless we identify a reason for concern. We’re saddened by the Pankey family’s tragic loss and are very interested in speaking directly with the family to better understand their claims."
Like the Pankey family before Aidan’s sickness, many have not heard of “Rat Bite Fever” or the threat that pet rats might be to their owners.
What do you think about Petco selling rats as pets? Do you think they should stop selling the rodents completely after what happened to Aidan Pankey? Does Aidan Pankey's death impact your decision to keep rats as pets?
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