Veteran facing misdemeanor over therapeutic pet ducks


By Brett Gillin

Darin Welker, a veteran of the Iraq war currently living in the village of West Lafayette Ohio, is fighting the village government to keep his pet ducks. Welker, who was wounded while serving his country, claims that the 14 pet ducks he keeps in a pen in his yard, are therapeutic to him. He says that they help him deal with his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but laws in the village forbid the man from keeping the ducks.

According to this story in the Marion Star, Welker is facing a misdemeanor citation of $150 and a date in the Coshocton Municipal Court for violating village ordinances. The ordinance, which was adopted back in 2010, bans residents from keeping farm animals anywhere in the village.

The Marion Star quotes the ordinance as saying that no “chickens, turkeys, ducks, live poultry or fowl of any kind, horses, ponies, cows, calves, goats, sheep, or live animals of any kind except dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds or mice shall be kept in the Village. No person shall keep or harbor rabbits which cause inconvenience or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities by smell, unsightly housing, or trespass, or which cause damage to the property of others.”

Welker knows that technically, he might be in violation of the ordinance, but feels that an exception should be made for him and his unique situation. He told the Star “I came back (from Iraq) with a major back injury, and between the back injury and the (post-traumatic stress disorder) that I also brought home, there were numerous problems.”

So Welker got surgery on his back, which the VA paid for, but was unable to receive physical or mental therapy. Although the surgeon who performed the procedure on Welker recommended both, the VA did not approve either, so Welker was forced to find other ways to cope with his physical and mental injuries.

Welker heard that ducks have been used as therapy and decided to give that a shot. He even claims to have a letter from the Mental Health Department of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs recommending that he keep the ducks.

According to this story on Fox News, Welker has been caring for the ducks since March, when they were just a few days old. He told reporters that caring for the ducks motivates him to leave his house so he can clean up after them and feed them.

“They’re quite a relaxing animal, and they help comfort me in different situations,” Welker told reporters. “(Watching them) keeps you entertained for hours at a time.”

Welker’s hearing is scheduled for this Wednesday at the Coshocton Municipal Court, where he plans to tell the judge how much the ducks help him both mentally and physically.

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