A little bit over 20 years in the past, Drs. Vernard Hodges and Terrence Ferguson stood in a parking zone in entrance of a constructing that will quickly grow to be their veterinary hospital in Byron, Georgia. As they gazed upon the construction, they realized that one thing necessary was lacking from their new observe: a reputation.
“Me, being the stoic one, I stated ‘Let’s do Byron Animal Hospital or Byron Veterinary Clinic,’” Ferguson says. “That sounded nice to me. (Dr. Hodge) checked out me and was like, ‘No man, we don’t wish to be Byron. Let’s be Critter Fixer.’”
And so Critter Fixer they grew to become. Hodges and Ferguson have been working their whimsically named veterinary hospital since 1999 in Byron, 100 miles south of Atlanta. Now the 2 males will lend their time and the Critter Fixer identify to a different enterprise – a brand new docuseries set to premiere on Nat Geo WILD on Might 7 at 10 p.m. ET. Critter Fixers: Nation Vets will observe Hodges and Ferguson as they deal with a various array of animals like cats, canine, pigs, geese, and a turtle (named Yurtle in fact); all of the whereas looking for to inform their very own tales about what it means to be black veterinarians in a small city.
Hodges and Ferguson first met as undergrads at Fort Valley State College with Ferguson finding out veterinary science and Hodges finding out biology. The pair labored regularly collectively, finally going to Tuskegee Faculty of Veterinary Drugs, changing into pals, after which enterprise companions.
After years spent honing their veterinary observe and making appearances on native information, Hodges and Ferguson received the eye of a Nat Geo WILD community trying to combine up its nature storytelling.
“(A producer from Nat Geo WILD) was like, ‘do you guys Skype?’ I stated, ‘Nah, what am I going to Skype for?’ We reside within the nation. Everyone I do know, I can simply go see,” Hodges says. “I then made the cellphone name to Physician Ferguson and instructed him we had a chance for a TV present. There was a bit silence after which he stated ‘no matter your antics are, I’m rolling with you.’ These had been actually his phrases.”
“I assumed he was simply joking since you’re speaking a few tv present,” Ferguson says. We’re South of Atlanta. (TV reveals) are for folks in Atlanta, not for us nation boys.”
However the nation boys received their TV present all the identical. Now they’re set on utilizing the chance to dispel some myths concerning the South and rural veterinary drugs.
“(Folks assume) the medication that we observe is outdated, antiquated, and that’s not the case. (Critter Fixers) will present that we observe high quality drugs,” Ferguson says. “We now have the identical instruments. We now have ultrasounds, x-rays, endoscopy, all the identical issues that we observe there. I believe for some folks, their notion is that we don’t or can’t do it like they do it within the metropolis.”
Nonetheless, attempting to start out a veterinary observe from scratch anyplace does current sure challenges. Hodges and Ferguson recall driving to Gadsen, Alabama early of their historical past to purchase a World Warfare II-era X-Ray machine from a retired physician.
“It was scorching. (Ferugson’s) truck didn’t have AC. Couldn’t afford it,” Hodges stated. “We additionally received an outdated anesthesia machine and we made it work. Regardless that we didn’t have some huge cash, or a variety of different issues, we nonetheless had our brains.”
They usually had the constructing that will someday grow to be Critter Fixer’s first location (the pair has since added a observe in Bonaire, Georgia).
“We put a variety of sweat fairness within the constructing. We truly went in and renovated the constructing ourselves,” Ferguson provides. “ It was simply him and I. We had been the receptionist, the technician, the veterinarian, the canine bather, the surgical assistant. We had been all that. We had been overqualified for some issues and certified for some. However that blossomed a bit over 20 years in the past into the place we’re at this time.”
At present Ferguson and Hodges aren’t solely profitable businessmen and burgeoning TV personalities but in addition, they hope, aspirational figures for the neighborhood. In line with the Boehringer Ingelheim, black Individuals make up solely 2.1 p.c of veterinarians within the U.S. regardless of making up 12 p.c of the workforce.
“There are lots of people who don’t see black veterinarians,” Hodge says. “We plan to be a measuring rod and let children see that something is feasible. That’s one thing you positively going to see on our present in addition to good drugs. You’re going to see variety.”
“It makes a distinction if you see it,” Ferguson provides. “I wished to be a veterinarian since I used to be seven or eight years outdated. Then the primary black veterinarian I noticed was after I was a junior in school. Throughout that span, I slipped a bit bit and was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do that.’ However I met that individual on the proper time. Had I not, I most likely wouldn’t have been a veterinarian. I do know the platform that Nat Geo is offering for us will be very highly effective.”
Now that Hodges and Ferguson have that platform they plan to take advantage of it…and repair a variety of critters.
Critter Fixers premieres Might 7 at 10 p.m. ET.
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