In the United States, only 2% of all employed veterinarians are black. A practice made up of two Black vets is even more rare. Nat Geo Wild’s CRITTER FIXERS: COUNTRY VETS provides a glimpse into the daily life of college friends turned business partners; Drs. Vernard Hodges and Terrence Ferguson.
As the owners of Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital in Bonaire, Georgia – about 100 miles south of Atlanta – the two and their staff are responsible for the treatment and care of more than 20,000 patients a year across their two locations.
I had the opportunity to speak with the two “country vets” via ZOOM, about discovering their passion for animals, what life is like now that they are on reality TV, and some tips for pet parents during the COVID-19 shelter in place.
The two had a passion for animals early. For Vernard, it started at eight when the family dog was injured and he attempted to saved him. Terrence’s passion was fish. The two met in college while attending Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. The only HBCU with a veterinary program on campus.
It all started with a DM:
A guy with a production team hit Terrence on his Instagram and asked if he had ever thought of getting into reality tv, he ignored him. But he eventually took the call. Terrence had to convince Vernard to get on board. The process took about six months. 3 months of Skype conversations and planning. A sizzle reel was shot in June, the show was pitched to network in July, by September they received the call that the show was picked up.
Telemedicine for pets during Coronavirus:
While the entire world is adjusting to what is at least temporarily, a “new normal,” I wanted to know what advice the Critter Fixers have for pet parents who might be faced with a pet emergency while sheltering in place. The Drs said it’s important to look at what’s not normal for your pet. “It’s like being a detective, you look at the clues to solve the case. Use your four senses.”
So far, the most rewarding aspect of being on reality TV for the duo has been connecting with kids who have aspirations of becoming Vets, especially the Black ones, giving the small number of African-American vets. Parents of young fans have reached out with stories of how much the show has impacted their children. Both Doctors have foundations that sponsor students and provide them with real life exposure to animal care.
That’s important because there are only 32 schools of veterinary medicine in the country. Having that hands on experience and mentor are things that can give someone a leg up in the application process.
Giving back to the community is something that has been embedded in Terrence and Vernard before they had the platform of reality TV to spread the message.
New episodes of CRITTER FIXERS: COUNTRY VETS air Saturday’s at 10/9c on Nat Geo Wild.