‘Image and legacy go hand in hand’ for Georgia’s ‘Critter Fixers’

Drs. Vernard Hodges and Terrence Ferguson are nominated for an NAACP Image Award for the Nat Geo Wild show.

Drs. Vernard Hodges and Terrence Ferguson, stars Critter Fixers: Country Vets, are nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Representation is important to the doctors, who use the platform to show Black kids they, too, can be veterinarians

Their encyclopedic knowledge of animal care, obvious love of their work, devotion to each other and larger than life personalities have made Drs. Terrence Ferguson and Vernard Hodges, stars of “Critter Fixers: Country Vets,” national names.

Anyone who has watched their show — which returns soon for its sixth season — can see why the two are so popular.

The friends, who graduated from Fort Valley State University and then attended veterinary school at Tuskegee University, are always ready with a laugh, ribbing each other about football — Ferguson’s son played for Alabama but transferred to Florida State; Hodges is a Georgia fan — one’s aversion to chickens (Ferguson) and their dad jokes.

And as Black veterinarians, they are aware how important their public image is. Fewer than 2% of veterinarians are African American, and the doctors see themselves as role models for the next generation.

Maybe that’s why the show and its hosts are nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

In the category “outstanding reality program, reality competition or game show (series), they are up against:

  • “America’s Got Talent” (NBC)
  • “Barbecue Showdown” (Netflix)
  • “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC)
  • “Wild ‘N Out” (VH1)

“This is something that really, really, really kind of resonates and means a lot,” Ferguson said. “We think about the NAACP and civil rights and who we are and where we come from and the doors that have been opened for us. If it wasn’t for this organization, we probably wouldn’t even have an opportunity to have some of the freedoms and things that we have.”

“It’s really just surreal,” Hodges said. “We never set out to be TV personalities. It never was a dream of ours.”

“Critter Fixers” won a Critics Choice Real TV Award, for best animal/nature show, in June 2022, but they said an Image Award is “huge.”

“Honestly, more than anything, we want to show positivity,” Hodges said. “I mean, kids can look on television and see Black actors. They can see Black football players and Black basketball players — even see black hockey players now. But when you look on television, you only see two Black men represent veterinarians.

“And so, we’ve got to be the ones that lead by example and show the image of two Black men who are positive, who love animals and care about their community,” he added. “I mean, that is the most important thing for me.”

Long before they became famous with their reality show on Nat Geo Wild, Hodges and Ferguson were giving back to their community.

Their philanthropy includes, among other things:

  • Vet for a Day,” which gives children nationwide a chance to learn about veterinary medicine.
  • Entrepreneurship opportunities for other vets: They’ve helped seven achieve clinic ownership so far, with openings planned in Alpharetta and Snellville soon.
  • Free care for pets whose owners are experiencing homelessness or financial instability.

“We think about image, but for us, we also think about legacy,” Ferguson said. “We’re at that point in our careers where we’re trying to leave a positive legacy, whether it’s through the kids that we’re trying to inspire or adults that we’re inspiring to try to get an ownership.

“So at this point,” he added, “image and legacy go hand in hand. We want to make sure that we leave the world a much better place than it was even when we came in.”

The Image Awards strive to uplift values “that inspire equality, justice, and progressive change, and highlighting artists committed to that purpose,” according to a press release announcing this year’s nominees.

To vote for the Critter Fixers, go to https://vote.naacpimageawards.net/#Cat118, then scroll to Outstanding Reality Program, Reality Competition or Game Show (Series) and click on the country vets.

Other nominees

Georgia is well-known for its rich Black culture, which can be evidenced in the Image Awards’ list of nominees. Those with ties to the Peach State include:

Usher: Entertainer of the year; outstanding male artist; outstanding music video (”Boyfriend”); outstanding soul/R&B song (“Good Good”)

Halle Bailey: Entertainer of the year; outstanding actress in a motion picture (”The Little Mermaid”); outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture (”The Color Purple”)

Kenan Thompson: Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series (“Saturday Night Live”)

Samuel L. Jackson: Outstanding actor in a television movie, limited–series or dramatic special (“Secret Invasion”)

Chlöe Bailey: Outstanding actress in a television movie, limited–series or dramatic special (“Praise This”)

Janelle Monáe: Outstanding female artist; outstanding album (“The Age of Pleasure”); outstanding soul/R&B song (“Lipstick Lover”)

Donald Glover: Outstanding writing in a comedy series (”Swarm,” with Janine Nabers); outstanding directing (“Swarm”)

“The Color Purple”: Outstanding motion picture; outstanding ensemble cast in a motion picture

“Swarm”: Outstanding television movie, limited–series or dramatic special


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