‘You’ve got to have hope more than anything’
Two Middle Georgia veterinarians are getting their own reality TV show on National Geographic.
The show focuses on Vernard Hodges and Terrence Ferguson, who operate Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital in Byron and Bonaire.
Hodges gained some notoriety last year as author of a popular self-help book “Bet on Yourself” that chronicled his rise from growing up poor in Fort Valley and failing the ninth grade, to becoming a successful veterinarian and real estate investor.
The show will be called “Critter Fixers” and will air sometime this fall on Nat Geo Wild, a channel dedicated to animals. The exact date has not been released. Hodges said he was contacted last March by a producer who read about him online, and asked if he would be interested in doing a show.
A pilot was filmed in June, then Hodges said he was informed later that National Geographic wanted to pick it up as a regular series. Six episodes have been filmed.
The show follows Hodges and Ferguson through their day as veterinarians as they work on domestic pets as well as going to different locations in the state to treat exotic animals.
The two are longtime friends and are black. Ferguson said about 98 percent of veterinarians are white.
“I definitely hope we can encourage young men or young women if they are African American that this is something they can accomplish if that is their dream,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson grew up in the small town of Talbotton east of Columbus, and said he became interested in becoming a veterinarian after he nursed an injured dog back to health when he was a child.
“It encouraged me and lit a fire under me and I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian ever since,” he said.
Hodges’ book has 117 reviews on Amazon and nearly all give it a 5-star rating. Hodges said when he wrote the book he thought he might sell 100 copies. He has now sold over 35,000.
He said filming of the show has been challenging.
“It’s been really taxing, but it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “After you get through shooting you have to talk about the cases. There were days we might not get home until 10 p.m.”
In March, National Geographic came under the ownership of the Walt Disney Company. Hodges said that will make their show available on Disney+, an online streaming service similar to Netflix, which will mean a much wider potential audience. The service is expected to launch Nov. 12, according to Disney.