Dr. Terrence “T” Ferguson and Dr. Vernard Hodges have been best friends ever since they met at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in the late 1990s. For the past 20 years, they’ve run Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital in Bonaire, in rural Georgia. They’re at that intersection where they’re called on to treat farm animals from small holdings, personal pets from hamsters to horses, local wildlife and some exotic species, too… including camels. In their National Geographic Wild (DStv channel 182) documentary series Critter Fixers: Country Vets, they take us inside their practice, where they treat around 20,000 patients per year.

It’s a family friendly show that works on so many levels, from introducing city kids to the love and care that farm animals need, to showing the reality of a job that never sleeps. But the best medicine on the show is Dr. T and Dr. Hodges themselves. They love every animal that comes through their doors, and they love passing on their knowledge about helping animals, too. As part of filming the series, they’ve both had to learn how to explain what they’re doing for the cameras, every step of the way. And they do it with flair and humour. “Critter Fixers: Country Vets shows us just how important veterinary care is in the lives of the many animals that live among us. Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Hodges treat such a wide variety of patients, and their unique cases together with their delightful personalities, make this series an absolute treat to watch,” says Evert van der Veer, Vice President, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Company Africa.

Watch National Geographic Wild

National Geographic Wild (DStv channel 182) is available on DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact, Family and Access. To upgrade your existing package, click here. Or if you'd like to Get DStv, find a service that suits your needs here.

Critter Fixers: get your fix!

In the US, only 2% of vets are African American. 1 of the things that attracted Dr. Hodges and Dr. Ferguson, who both have children themselves, to the idea of making a show about their work, has been to offer kids who love animals a chance to see people like themselves in the job, as well as seeing them as dads and professional people. Dr. Hodges and Dr. Ferguson have their own dogs and bearded dragons at home, and recently they’ve embarked on a farming project, too. As of 2021, they are now raising 19 cows of their own.

Kids don’t have to have access to farm animals and exotic pets to follow in their footsteps. While they treat an enormous range of animals, it turns out that domestic dogs can be 1 of their most complex patients, as they’re susceptible to such a wide range of ailments. But the doctors have noted that because so many vets treat dogs, all sorts of approaches have been developed around the world to manage these conditions. So a dog that might have had to be put down a few years ago for something like cognitive dysfunction (doggie Alzheimer’s) can now happily live out its full 15-year lifespan. What a gift to give a family.

Recent developments in technology have also meant that even in rural Georgia, Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Hodges can run their own in-clinic X-Rays, ultrasounds, and blood tests, and gets results within 10 minutes instead of waiting for the big labs to send back results, the way that vets all around the world used to. It’s a job full of hope, excitement and interest… and the opportunity to walk around with a puppy in your pocket, which does not happen nearly enough in most grownup jobs.

10 things to know about the docs

  1. Dr. Ferguson’s first patient was a dog that had been hit by a car, which he nursed back to health himself, when he was a kid. That, along with rescuing strays in his neighbourhood, set him on the path to being a vet.
  2. Dr. Hodges grew up on a small farm where his pets included goats, cows, dogs, a cat, turtles. He wanted to be a marine biologist like the great ocean explorer and conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
  3. Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Hodges both grew up without the internet and agree that their favourite animal books as kids were the ones with facts and pictures, especially Jacques Cousteau’s books.
  4. Dr. Hodges’ favourite name that some 1 has called their pet belongs to a 1-eyed cat named Popeye (he operated on Popeye himself in a procedure called enucleation, which means the removal of the entire eye). Dr. Ferguson took a shine to Sacagawea as a name for 1 of the horses he’s treated (named after a Lemhi Shoshone Native American guide who led some early American explorers).
  5. They’re always tempted to keep strays. “Always,” insists Dr. T. “We like to love on animals”. And they’re proud of their kids for following in their footsteps and wanting to help stray animals, too.
  6. The first time they watched the show they were surprised by how interesting and entertaining it was – and how clearly their friendship came through on screen.
  7. COVID-19 has had a serious impact on their practice. At first, they had difficulty accessing basic things like masks and personal protective gear. But due to factory shutdowns, they later had to deal with issues like the special food that some animals need to survive no longer being available at all. The pandemic also impacted the number of cases they could see.
  8. While both doctors are excellent at communicating with their patients, some are easier to understand than others. Dr. Hodges admits that he’s never quite sure what snakes are feeling, while some small animals go from seeming okay to attacking and latching onto you with their teeth, especially with being at the vet’s office being a stressful experience.
  9. They note that their most unusual patients in their first season include a camel and a chinchilla – neither of whom are used as standard patients in their veterinary training. Recently their most unusual patient has been an emu. 1 of the things they had to figure out was whether it was male or female, which meant checking the cloaca for its reproductive organs – while keeping an eye on its huge claws. The doctors are ready to do a lot of reading, research and reaching out to experts.
  10. As country vets, they often see people try to take raccoons as pets (we’ve seen them online, they’re so cute it would be hard to resist). 1 of the biggest problems aside from aggression in adult raccoons is that the animal can carry Baylisascaris from roundworm, which can infect humans and cause brain damage. The doctors note that people also bring them all sorts of snakes that they’ve picked up in the wild.

5 reasons to watch Critter Fixers with the kids

  1. “It’s going to be educational,” says Dr. T. “You’re going to learn something about your pets that you didn’t know.”
  2. Dr. Hodges adds, “Kids, especially sitting down with their parents, are going to learn to follow their dreams. We not only talk about animal stuff, we talk about being 2 kids from rural Georgia who had these dreams and plans. Follow your dreams because anything is possible. Dream big and chase ’em.”
  3. Dr. T continues, “The next 2 kind of coincide with each other” Passion! You’ll see the passion that Dr. Hodges and I and our staff have for not only the pets, but their owners as well. They go hand-in-hand. We haven’t thus far had a pet that came in the front door by itself. They have to come in with owners and clients. Our passion is for both of them, because they’re members of the family. We’re just treating another member of the family.
  4. And Dr. Hodges concludes, “The 5th thing is if your family loves animals, this is the show to watch, because we’re going to have all kinds of animals from ducks to geese, to sugar gliders to chinchillas to camels. You’re going to see a wide variety of animals, and you’re going to see how they’re taken care of. I know a lot of people when they go to a veterinarian, they wonder what goes on in the back – you’re going to see everything. You’re going to see the tension and drama and the looks on our faces when we’re worries about how we’re going to fix it. You may see come tears, you may see love, you’re going to see smiles, you’re going to see hugs. You’re going to see a wide array of emotions. And they’re going to be good emotions. Very family friendly, and you’re going to see some amazing pets and owners.

Episode guide

Episode 1: Tortoise And The Hair… Less Cat

Drs. Hodges and Ferguson work to save a bunny that has been attacked by the family cat, and then perform an emergency C-section on a bulldog.

Episode 2: Goose On The Loose

Dr. Hodges is in surgery with a dog when an emergency with a newborn baby goat in distress comes to the office. Meanwhile, Dr. Ferguson handles a snake with pneumonia, and then both doctors head out to treat a goose with a broken leg.

Episode 3: Alpacapalooza

Drs. Hodges and Ferguson are busy with a hospital full of patients and taking care of their clients all over rural Georgia, treating everything from alpaca pregnancies and pig hooves.

Episode 4: Hump Day

Drs. Hodges and Ferguson treat a pitbull that needs surgery on its ear; a dehydrated bearded dragon; and an unruly camel.

Episode 5: Captain Hoof

The doctors are busy with a hospital full of patients. Unusual pets, such as a chinchilla with a severely broken leg, test the docs’ veterinary skills.

Episode 6: A Litter Of This, A Litter Of That

Dr. Ferguson and vet tech Jordan treat a cat with an apparent ear infection, and a stray mama cat arrives in labour requiring a c-section.

Watch Critter Fixers: Country Vets S1 from Friday, 2 July on National Geographic Wild (DStv channel 182) at 18:00

Watch National Geographic Wild

National Geographic Wild (DStv channel 182) is available on DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact, Family and Access. To upgrade your existing package, click here. Or if you'd like to Get DStv, find a service that suits your needs here.

How to watch DStv online

Sign up with the DStv app, a free service for all DStv subscribers. With the DStv app, the same channels you watch on your decoder at home are available for you to stream online or on your mobile device wherever you are. 

Download and watch later

Get the DStv app (Apple or Android) and download episodes to watch on your phone or tablet – just remember to connect to the Wi-Fi first so there are no surprise data costs.

Get it on Google Play

Feel every moment with DStv