Injured? Dial #WIN or #946 from your cellphone for your free consultation or call 1-800-LAW-NEED.
Call Us 24/7
( 1-800-529-6333 )

Family of 10-Year-Old Boy Who Died of Rat Bite Fever Sues Petco

July 15, 2014

When people visit a local store to purchase a family pet, they expect to bring home a loving pet and the items necessary to take care of their new edition to the family.  They do not expect to bring home an animal with a dangerous contagious disease.  The family of a 10-year-old boy who died after suffering a bite from a rat has filed a lawsuit against Petco, the national pet shop chain.  The lawsuit alleges that the boy died after contracting rat bite fever from a rat purchased at the pet shop based on a report from the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office.

The boy visited Petco with his grandma on Memorial Day in 2013 to pick out a pet rat.  Approximately two weeks after he purchased the rat, the boy came down with what appeared to be the flu.  The boy died within 48 hours of manifesting symptoms.  The grandma told ABC News that she put the boy to bed after a visit to a doctor’s office.  When she went into his room the following morning, her grandson was unable to speak or stand up.  When she carried the boy to her room he collapsed onto the floor.  She called 911 because of his impaired motor skills, inability to talk and shallow breathing.

Petco officials commented to ABC News, “We are deeply saddened by the Pankey family’s tragic loss.  The health and safety of people and pets are always our top priority, and we take the family’s concerns very seriously.  We are investigating the claims and will respond when we have more information.”

There are two separate bacteria that cause rat bite fever according to the CDC.  The condition can be extremely serious or even fatal when contracted by humans according to the CDC website.  The disease is usually contracted through contaminated food and water or through rodents.

The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit based on strict liability and negligence.  Strict liability is a legal theory that imposes liability without the need to establish negligent conduct.  The lawsuit in this case might allege strict liability based on a defective product theory.  Although the rat is an animal, it can be viewed essentially as a product when sold through a pet shop.  If it was carrying a disease when it was sold to the boy, this might be viewed as a defective product.  Further, the pet store chain might be liable under a negligence theory if it failed to take adequate steps to ensure it was not selling a rodent that was infected with a dangerous contagious disease.  The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

If you or a family member is injured by a defective product, you might have a right to financial compensation.  Our personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat. 


Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.