Two Weeks After Visiting Pet Store, Her Son Died. Now Mom Has Warning For Other Parents

Updated April 17, 2017

While little Aidan Pankey was enjoying a day at a Petco store in San Diego with his grandma, he picked out his new pet rat, which he named Alex. But two weeks later, the 10-year-old Aidan began experiencing odd symptoms. He was sick and things continued to get worse. He complained of upset stomach, fever, chills, and his family rushed him to the doctor.

The medical professional diagnosed Aidan with the flu. He sent the boy home and gave him instructions to rest and take mild medications. As Aidan followed the doctor’s orders and drank a lot of liquid, things did not get better. The next night, Aidan’s fever was worse. He grew pale and lethargic, then he lost his ability to stand on his feet…

By the time Aidan’s family called the paramedics on that 2013 night, it was too late. While the emergency personnel transported Aiden to the hospital, he didn’t have a chance. Within hours of the 911 call, he was dead.

And then his family learned what his cause of death was – streptobacillus moniliformis infection – known as rat bite fever.

Because death from rat bite fever is not common, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) got involved. They confirmed that the boy’s rat, Alex, which he had bought from Petco, was infected with the deadly bacteria.

What’s even more terrifying, the disease can be transmitted simply by handling an infected rodent. Aidan did not show any signs of having been bitten.

Question of the week: If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Now the Pankey family is suing Petco, claiming the company failed to protect customers from dangerous pets. The civil trial began on March 29. The family’s attorney Bibianne Fell questions whether the rat should have been tested for the deadly bacteria before being put up for sale. The majority of Americans agree that Petco should not be selling potentially deadly animals infected with disease.

But upon investigation, it seems that Aiden’s was not the only case of rat bite fever. There had been other reports stemming from pets bought at the San Diego store.

“[Petco] had knowledge that its customers were contracting rat bite fever from those rats and getting very, very sick,” Fell said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Petco knew at this time that rat bite fever causes death and did not put it in the warnings.”

Every time Petco sells a pet to a customer, they force the customer to sing a paper that states: “I release Petco from any and all responsibility related to illness, injury, or damage that may occur from exposure to my pet,” reported ABC10 News.

Nevertheless, Petco released an official statement offering condolences to the Pankey family, which reads:

“The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority. We take the family’s concerns very seriously.”

Petco’s attorneys argue that pets come with dangers, claiming it is not Petco’s responsibility to test every rat they sell. They sold 5 million rats from 2001 to 2013 and there were only 16 claims of rat bite fever and everyone was treated.

“There is no way to prevent rat bite fever in these rats that are sold, and it’s been this way for a very long time,” Petco attorney Kimberly Oberrecht told the jury.

Please CAST YOUR JUDGEMENT in the comments below now!