CLINTON — Some days being a veterinarian can be hazardous to the health.

Local veterinarian Jerry Duey has the battle scars to prove it as he points to a bite mark on his arm.

“My last bite wound was here. It took about three to four weeks to heal,” he said.

Duey and his partner, Jane Leigh, operate the Clinton Veterinary Clinic. He has been in the animal business for 30 years; Leigh for 23 years.

Most animals, like children, don’t take kindly to a visit to their doctor.

“A lot of dogs are quite nasty when they come in,” Duey said. “They will try and attack you. Your heart kind of skips a beat occasionally.” Duey believes the secret to keeping his body in one piece is outmaneuvering the animal — being smatter than the dog.

Duey’s worst injury came from the hoof of a horse. He was working on its teeth, the animal took exception to that, reared up and got him in the head.

“Didn’t knock me out but put a big gash in my head,” he recalled. “A lot of blood. Had to go in for a CAT scan but everything was fine. It just hurt a lot.”

Duey’s day begins at 7:30 a.m., and sometimes ends at four in the morning if he is on call.

He and Leigh take turns and they also have a part-time vet who helps out at the end of the week.

He said they get called out almost every night.

“Nobody likes night calls,” Duey said. “That’s probably the least favorite of anything in the practice. But that’s part of it.”

Every day is different at the vet clinic. They schedule appointments from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and again from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Surgery takes up the time in between.

According to Duey, they do all types of surgeries.

“Yesterday we did bone surgery on a boxer that broke the top part of a leg bone off. Today we are taking a chip out of the shoulder of a retriever,” he said.

Duey even does knee surgery.

“You know when football players blow their knees — dogs do the same thing.”

Duey has treated some very unique patients over the years.

“We had a chimpanzee come in that was traveling with the Harlem Globetrotters. He came in all dressed up in a coat — when we listened to him with a stethoscope — it was cold.

“He didn’t like that,” he said. One of Duey’s clients used to have a tiger and a cougar and another with buffalo.

“We’ve had ferrets to birds to llamas,” he said.

The only critters they do not treat are reptiles because he and Leigh are not confident around them.

The Clinton Vet Clinic only deals with small animals and horses. Duey says he got out of the large or farm animal business several years ago.

Although currently petless, most of Duey’s pets have been rejects from the clinic — including an epileptic Boston terrier and poodles with broken legs.

“They are pets clients didn’t want to fix or couldn’t afford,” he said.

Most of his pets are buried in his backyard, including a horse of 35 years. Both he and Leigh have had to euthanize their own pets. He tries to detach himself when putting an animal down.

“You get attached, there’s no way you can’t, but euthanasia is a viable option. Unfortunately it is something we do quite a bit. It’s a relief in the long run to the owner and the pet,” Duey said. “The quality of life is no longer there.”

Because of the advances in technology, veterinary medicine has become more specialized. Duey has to take 20 hours of continuing education each year to keep his license current.

A lot has changed since he first started 30 years ago.

But in spite of the scars, and having to be vaccinated for rabies, for the long hours and never knowing when he is going to come nose to tooth with an angry animal, Duey says his job is very rewarding.