Lifelong veterinarian friends Vernard Hodges, left, and Terrence Ferguson in Critter Fixers: Country Vets. Picture: National Geographic/Stewart Volland)
Lifelong veterinarian friends Vernard Hodges, left, and Terrence Ferguson in Critter Fixers: Country Vets. Picture: National Geographic/Stewart Volland)

‘Critter Fixers: Country Vets’ is a must-see show if you are a pet parent or animal lover

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Jul 28, 2021

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If you are a pet parent, you definitely want to catch Critter Fixers: Country Vets on National Geographic Wild.

The series follows long-time veterinarian friends, Dr Terrence Ferguson and Dr Vernard Hodges, who run a practice in rural Georgia.

Viewers can see them tending to all sorts of injured animals, be they cats, dogs, horses, lizards, pigs or camels. And they do so with compassion and unmistakable heroism.

In a recent chat with the country vets, they shed light on the genesis of the show and their profession.

“We’ve been in business for over 20 years and business partners for almost as long. In America, black vets are quite rare (only 2% or so of vets in America are African-Americans) and you never know who might find you. Believe it or not, we responded to a direct message on social media that the production company sent us, asking us if we would be keen to do a TV show. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but whaddya know. After a few conversations, here we are.”

Ferguson and Hodges are grateful for the opportunity to inspire others to follow suit and join the veterinarian sector.

Dr Terrence Ferguson examines a groundhog's ear as surgery tech Paul assists at Bear Hollow Zoo in Athens, Georgia. Picture: National Geographic

“We have both been instrumental and involved in uplifting kids in our community via various projects for a long time. What has been great about the show is that we have a platform that can inspire kids to want to become vets, great dads or professional people. Our voices reach outside rural Georgia, and we hope that young kids seeing two black veterinarians will encourage them to follow their dreams. Our voices have gone from our small town to all over the world. This warms our hearts as we know that representation matters.”

Reflecting on some of their most bizarre cases, they revealed: “There are so many but the one that stands out is a camel! We did not even know that there are camels in Georgia, but it turns out that there is one. We got the call and had to think for a minute. We did go out and we treated it. You will see what happened in the show.

“Another one was an owl, that was called in by our city mayor. It had been hit by a car, so we went out to take a look. It turns out it had a concussion and minor injuries to its wings. After treatment, it started eating and then healing. We went back and released it in the same park where it had been found.”

Dr Vernard Hodges with Zangif the cat at the Critter Fixers clinic. Picture: National Geographic

As for the hardest domestic animals to treat, they offered: “Dogs! They are so complex and there are so many illnesses that they can get. We have, however, noticed that their lifespan has increased by at least 3 to 4 years in our clinics. Previously, there were no treatments or medications for certain things. Now we can test and treat these conditions.

“For example, cognitive dysfunction, which is basically dog Alzheimer’s. Previously, we could not treat this and we had to euthanise. Now we can keep them alive for, say, 15 years with this condition.

“The turnaround time for tests has also shortened; for example, blood tests used to take up to 2 weeks because we had to send samples to the university lab. We can now run tests in-house in our own clinic for everything from endocrinology, kidneys, thyroid and liver to diabetes, you name it, and we get results within 10 minutes. We can also do our own X-rays and ultrasounds. These help us work out what to do much more quickly.”

On pets being embraced as an integral part of the family with many parents ensuring they have medical insurance, too, the vets were asked if they’d noticed that become a growing trend across the globe.

“Oh yes, pets are now absolutely members of the family and people treat them like that. Not only have they become members of the family, but we are also seeing more exotic pets than we saw 10 to 15 years ago, for example, sugar gliders and chinchillas.

“The human-animal bond is stronger than ever before. When people bring in their pets, they bring in members of their family and want them to be treated accordingly. We don’t take that lightly. People want their animals to live as long as possible. They are happy for you to run additional tests and even consult specialists to keep their babies alive and healthy.”

Interestingly, between the two of them, they own a cattle farm with 19 cows. They described it as a dream come true after a two-decade career treating “other people’s horses, cows and farm animals”.

Critter Fixers: Country Vets airs on National Geographic (DStv channel 182) on Fridays at 6pm

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