Animal rights group PETA has asked Petco Animal Supplies Inc. to stop selling rodents as pets, alleging that the animals are mistreated by the suppliers and in transport, which the organization claims increases the risk to the animals and buyers.

A Petco spokeswoman had no response to PETA’s request, which follows the filing of a lawsuit by a San Diego family of 10-year-old boy who died after being bitten by a pet rat and contracting rat bite fever. The request was conveyed in a March 3 letter from PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch to Petco CEO James Myers.

Petco did refer to an earlier statement in which it said, “Our animal sourcing, handling and care standards are among the highest in the industry. All of our procedures are developed and frequently reviewed by an independent panel of animal care experts, veterinarians and specialists.”

PETA said its investigators found routine “neglect of and cruelty to animals” by the suppliers.

Petco urges all pet buyers to seek medical attention when bitten or scratched by an animal. The store has pet buyers review and sign a care and handling guide.