Paperwork filed in federal court in Denver states the family purchased a "fancy rat" from a PetSmart store in Parker, Colo., a Denver suburb. The rat appeared ill and died shortly after the purchase. Upon returning the dead rodent to the store, the father, Robert Aiassa-Roberts, and his son, Steiner, were given a replacement rat.
This animal, too, was ill, Courthouse News Service reported Monday. The replacement rat wheezed and sneezed frequently and also died. At some point, the family contends, Steiner was bit or scratched by the rodent, contracting the rare rate bite fever, which can be fatal if untreated.
The boy suffered flu-like symptoms and a rash. The infection is generally treated with antibiotics.
The family's lawsuit alleges PetSmart knew or should have known the rat supplier, Rainbow World Exotics, had not properly immunized the animals from the disease.
The family is seeking unspecified damages for product liability, breach of warranty and negligence.
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