It’s not every day that a producer from the National Geo Wild channel reaches out to two country doctors of veterinary medicine to star in their own reality television show. Well, this situation happened to Dr. Vernard Hodges and Dr. Terrance Ferguson, the joint owners of Critter Fixer Veterinarian Hospital in Bonaire, Georgia.
The stakes were definitely high since according to the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s most recent data report that shows African Americans only make up 2 percent of students in this field. Rolling out had a chance to sit and speak with both doctors at the Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown to gain some insight on how two college students continue to maintain their business partnership 30 years after graduation day.
How critical is it for millennials to understand the importance of developing relationships in high school and college?
Dr. Hodges: It’s definitely a big part of it because these are the years you learn how to start trusting people. … As a friend, I have to trust my business partner financially, and pretty much he knows every aspect of my life. As a result, 30 years later a business relationship is solid based on bonds and friendships that were formed in college.
Dr. Ferguson: When I’m talking to kids, one very important thing I tell them is to keep your circle small. Keep your circle filled with people who have the same ambitions as you. … You need someone to elevate you.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about the work that you do as pet doctors?
Hodges: Every day we deal with a roller coaster of emotions. We may see 45-50 patients in a day. Maybe 10 of them are gravely ill; maybe two of them we can do nothing about. It’s the emotional part about everything that’s the hardest part. Unfortunately, these pets don’t live forever.
Ferguson: People may just think we deal with farm animals, but that’s not the case. It’s the people who don’t have pets that may not understand the human-animal bond. We basically mimic human medicine.
What made you chose the entrepreneur route directly upon graduating college?
Ferguson: Most graduates are hired by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. I would say 60 percent of veterinarians work for the government. I know that we both had the drive to own our own hospital.
Hodges: As far as financing was concerned we had none. We had to lean on friends, family, others, and sweat equity. We went to the banks and they said “no.” We had to grind to get what we want, but it was the best lesson because at the end of the day when we started making money we didn’t owe anybody.
Tune in Saturday nights at 10 p.m. EST on the Nat Geo Wild channel to watch “Critter Fixers: Country Vets,” and on Amazon Prime.