A family in San Diego has filed a lawsuit against Petco, claiming that the pet store is to blame for selling an infected rat that passed a bacterial infection on to their 10-year-old son that killed him. The family is seeking an unspecified amount for the suffering they’ve endured as a result of his loss.
According to the Associated Press, the boy passed away hours after he was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death was streptobacillus moniliformis infection, which is also known as rat-bite fever.
Subsequent tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the pet rat was infected, says the family attorney.
“We are deeply saddened by the… family’s tragic loss,” Petco said in a statement. “The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family’s concerns very seriously.”
It added that the company is “in the process of investigating these claims and will respond appropriately when we have more information.”
The boy was so fond of his female rat, apparently, that his grandmother bought a male so the two could be a couple.
“He was a bright, energetic, friendly, happy kid who actually had a prior rat, who was a female, and he had this idea in his young head of having his female rat get married,” the family’s attorney said.
He adds that the family isn’t speaking to the media about their ordeal, but just want to make sure other parents are aware of this tragedy.
“It’s a means to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” the attorney said of the suit. “Apparently there was some breakdown in procedures. They want tighter controls.”