Man Buys Ferret Instead Of Poodle: A MEDIA FRENZY ANALYSIS

On April 11, 2013 by Tim Newman

Ferret Poodle Brazilian Scam

You’ve probably already heard this story 4 or 5 times, but in case you missed it, here are the bones; it’s very simple:


Yes, it’s got that LOL-factor, but that’s the end of the story, there’s not really any more detail. These sorts of stories are like well-needed drags on a cigarette for media websites.

Basically, they get some office chump to pad out a story in a matter of minutes, and they’ve got 250 words of “news” content that they can have on the internet immediately.

Because of the headline and the picture, they’ll probably get retweets and Facebook shares galore, a web publisher’s wet dream.

But the attention is shared quickly between all of the internet lords, so the payback is reduced.

I’m not knocking it, that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. Some poor navvy (me) has to make a one-sentence story stretch out long enough to ensure people stay on their site to observe their advertising (but at least I’m admitting it).

So here’s the rundown:

Ferret Poodle Brazilian Scam

Yahoo News

They admit to robbing a quote from a veterinarian off the Daily Mail: 

“The veterinarian informed him the ferrets ‘had been given steroids at birth to increase their size and then had some extra grooming to make their coats resemble a fluffy toy poodle.'”

They tell us he paid $150 per poodle.

Yahoo also says that the same man had been tricked into buying a fake chihuahua at the same market. Come on, mate.

At this point, they have run out of details, so they just copy and paste the Daily Mail’s guide to buying a poodle and not getting duped, which includes this ever-so-helpful tip to spotting a real poodle:

Toy poodles have been known to live as long as 20 years.”

I guess I’ll have to wait a while to check it’s the real deal.

Lastly, they include a news clip from Argentina, completely in a foreign language with no subtitles. That’s really helpful…. well padded out.

The Mail Online

These guys go all out with their headline:

“Man gets shock of his life when he buys two toy poodles for $150 only to be told by a vet that they are actually GIANT RODENTS pumped up with steroids to look like dogs”

– Wow, hard-hitting journalism, guys! I don’t want to be a pedant, but ferrets aren’t rodents.

They do give us a bit more detail, though: the market is called La Salada, and this phenomenon is well known over there. They give the ferrets hormones at birth, and they are colloquially known as “Brazilian Rats.” So, basically, don’t buy dogs from there.

They go on to milk the article with a picture of a real dog and a non-hormonal ferret, followed by some unnecessary details about the market itself.

This is finished off with the helpful tips mentioned by Yahoo and the unintelligible foreign news clip.

Animal Collection on LAZERHORSE.ORG

The Metro

The Metro, a source of journalism par excellence, haven’t really tried, they’ve stuck in some MASSIVE pictures and some responses from the magnificently uninformed world of Twitter.

Their bold tagline underneath the title is “The next time you buy a cute poodle, make sure you check it isn’t a ferret filled with steroids, like some that were sold in Argentina.” – OK. I will.

This Twitter comment took my eye: @inflatedKarma: ‘If you don’t know the difference between a toy poodle and a ferret on steroids you probably deserve to get ripped off.’

How did they round the story off? The unintelligible news clip, of course.

The story has truly gone global. The Ozzies don’t really add to the story, other than to convert the costs into Australian dollars.

The Huffington Post

Nothing new here, they got the Daily Mail checklist and, of course, the unintelligible video to close.


These were the poorest coverers by far, one picture and 137 words. No video, no checklist for poodle purchasers….. oh well.

Another point to mention is how very quiet the BBC was on this topic.

Now I want to be clear, I’m not dissing the outlets mentioned above, I’ve just done exactly the same thing as them, I’ve made a short but slightly amusing story fill more than 800 words.

It’s just taken me longer than them, and people have probably already stopped searching for the images on Google now, so I’ve missed the click boat. This has all been a waste of my time and yours.

Oh well… now, how shall I end this item? Oh yeah, an unintelligible news report, of course:




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