When parents welcome a new child into their lives, the last thing they possibly expect is the notion that they will one day be forced to bury that child. While the circle of life is undeniable, there is an anticipated order of events that is widely accepted as the way things should go; parents bring children into this world expecting that child to sit by them at their deathbed, not the other way around.

There is no greater tragedy than that of a parent planning the funeral for their own child. It is just not supposed to be that way. It is a nightmare for any parent to even consider, but heartbreakingly, sometimes those nightmares become reality.

When young Aidan Pankey adopted a new pet rat, it was supposed to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Tragically, what that rat did wound up leaving the Pankeys burying their 10-year-old son.

Ten-year-old Aidan Pankey loved animals. That is why he was so over the moon with excitement when his grandmother presented him with a surprising new gift! It was a pet rat she had purchased at Petco knowing that her grandson would just adore the little rodent. 

pet rat bicycleInside Edition

Aidan Pankey and his pet rat Alex were inseparable. They did everything together. Where Aidan went, the rat went too. Nobody, least of all his parents, had any idea that the rat they had brought into their home would ultimately be responsible for taking their son’s life. 

pet rat pajamasInside Edition


Two weeks after purchasing Alex the rat from the pet supply store mega chain, Aidan fell sick. He had an upset stomach, fever, and chills. His parents took him to the doctor who diagnosed Aidan with the flu and sent him home with orders to drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest. 

exterior petco Inside Edition

But Aidan did not make it through the night. His parents rushed him to the hospital with the paramedics but it was too late. Aidan was gone. Now the family is suing Petco, who they believe share a huge responsibility in the death of their innocent young son. 

rat death lawyerInside Edition


You see, Aidan didn’t have the flu at all. The boy was suffering from rat-bite fever which he contracted from his new pet rat Alex. Rat-bite fever isn’t detectable in rats, but they can give it to others just by carrying it around. Aidan just thought he was bonding with his new friend, he didn’t know how sick it would make him. 

pet rat poolInside Edition

Petco claims that it has no responsibility in the death of Aidan caused by the infected rat the store sold him. According to the store, anyone who buys a rat must sign a waiver acknowledging that they understand it could be infected with rat-bite fever. They are still selling rats today. 

pet rat shoulderInside Edition

Right now, the legal case is in the courts. Both sides will present their arguments and a judge will decide whether or not Petco is responsible for the role it played in Aidan’s death. To learn more about the deadly signs of rat-bite fever be sure to watch the entire video below! 

Whatever the outcome of the case, the fact remains that a young boy lost out on his chance to ever grow up and that’s just heartbreaking beyond words.

Share this important story with your friends below.