The devastated family of a 10-year-old boy who died from rat-bite fever are suing the petshop where the rodent was purchased.
Aiden Pankey died in 2013 after contracting the rare disease from a seemingly healthy animal named Alex, which he bought with his Grandma at a Petco store in San Diego.
Two weeks after picking out the male rat - which was intended to be a companion for his female pet - Aiden fell ill with flu-like symptoms. Within two days he was dead.
Aiden’s family claim Petco knew they were selling potentially infected rats as there had been more than a dozen cases of others contracting the disease from animals sold at the chain since 2001 .
“Despite this, you will hear that Petco is still selling rats to kids and kids are still getting sick,” The Pankey’s family lawyer, Bibianne Fell told the court.
But the company is fighting the allegations, insisting that “they cannot change the nature of an animal” and can’t ensure the millions of rodents it sells are free from bacteria and diseases.
“There are risks with owning any pet,” Petco’s attorney Kimberley Oberrecht said.
Aiden's father, Andrew, told CBS News: “I’m fighting this case to protect some children because I don’t want this to happen to another family."
"I still talk to him, tell him I love him, that Daddy is not going to give up.”
This article first published on New Idea.