It had to happen in San Diego, So Cal, home of Petco. Petco sells rats, at least one case in Oregon, one in California and one in Mayland all allege rats from Petco caused them harm and in one case, death…from rat bite fever!
Now the So Cal Judge is saying, the rat is a product being sold. Judge says strict liability, meaning, you sold the rat, the rat had x disease, it bit the kid, so you are liable for selling it. [Strict liability is a legal term referring to the holding of an individual or entity liable for damages or losses, without having to prove carelessness or mistake.]
The one question we thought of was, when are such rats tested, if at all, for the disease or other diseases? Are they vaccinated? It would appear that the rat sale here is a personal injury case but we suppose if there WAS some way to check if such rodents are vaccinated, would that have precluded strict liability? We don’t know because most animals that harm people are not strict liability cases. They are usually personal injury, which is usually established by negligence or penal code violations.. Our guess is that Petco will appeal.
See this link which explains why the guy who wrote it, thinks that should happen: https://www.animallaw.info/sites/default/files/lralvol12_2_p241.pdf
We don’t believe this would work to be honest.
Petco probably has to sue their rat supplier if they can even figure out which rat did the harm to begin with? Or, maybe just stop the sales of rats altogether. Switch over to puppies, which would get the ARs really worked up. OH–we forgot, that’s already illegal in city of San Diego.
Information summarized from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/rat-bite-fever/
—> So what is the risk of this disease if you or your children have a pet rat? Fancy rats are very popular as easy to maintain, social and gentle pets. They are common children’s pets but also have an avid following among adults who can’t afford or don’t have the lifestyle suitable for a dog or cat. Fancy rats are widely available from both pet stores and private breeders in different colors, sizes and conformations. However, few, if any of the pet rats sold are tested for the bacteria that cause rat-bite fever.
The prevalence of the bacteria in rats can vary, from as few as 10% to as many as 100% of rats in a breeding colony or laboratory that are infected. Any pet rat can carry these organisms, but the risk of actually contracting the disease from the rat is very low.
What should you do? As with any animal that carries a risk of zoonotic disease, hand-washing after handling is of utmost importance. Using either soap-and-water or an alcohol-based hand cleanser after handling the pet rat and cleaning the cage is mandatory. Children should be instructed to always wash their hands after playing with the pet and to always tell parents about any bites that occur when handling the pet. Owners of pet rats should immediately report unexplained fevers, illness or rashes to their healthcare provider. Specialized screening tests to see if your pet rat is a carrier of S. moniliformis are available from veterinarians, but make sure you call ahead to see which veterinarians provide this test, as it is not routinely offered.