It’s not unusual to be sitting in the waiting room at the Laurel Road Veterinary Clinic and see a chicken with a broken leg, or to be seated next to a four-pound tegu with a tummy problem. That’s an ordinary day in the life of the exotic vet "Dr. Don" Swerida, who now owns a brick-and-mortar clinic in addition to his long-operating Dr. Don’s Mobile Vet.

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A crushed Cooter turtle receives a temporary fiberglass shell.

Swerida graciously let me hang out with him and his staff for a couple of days at his year-old clinic in the Publix-anchored Plaza Venezia.

I witnessed Dr. Don operate on a five-pound gator who lost a limb to a bigger gator. He also gave a car-crushed Cooter turtle a temporary fiberglass shell.

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Cherryl Graham and Peaches.

Dr. Don receives regular "ambulance" deliveries from the Venice Wildlife Center and from owners who bring in their beloved Scarlet Macaws and run-of-the-mill mutts.

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Rosie the ferret, following an IV treatment.

You’ll have to wait until the October issue to read the full story about Dr. Don’s road trips, and how a pit bull became a blood donor to save another dog’s life.

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