Society

Injured Iraq Veteran Cited For Owning Therapeutic Ducks

| by Jared Keever

A U.S. Army veteran who injured his back in the Iraq War may be forced to give up his 14 pet ducks, who he says are therapeutic.

The Associated Press reports that the village of West Lafayette, Ohio recently cited Darin Welker, 36, for a minor misdemeanor for keeping the ducks on his property. He is now scheduled to appear in Coshocton Municipal Court for a hearing Wednesday. He could face a $150 fine and be forced to remove the animals from his property.

Welker said he plans to tell the judge how the ducks help him deal with his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, by keeping him active. He said knowing that the animals need to be fed and cleaned up after motivates him to get out of bed in the morning.

"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," he recalled.

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"They're quite a relaxing animal, and they help comfort me in different situations," Welker recently told the Coshocton Tribune. “[Watching them] keeps you entertained for hours at a time.”

Welker injured his back in 2005 while in Iraq. In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs paid for surgery to repair the back injury but did not approve the physical therapy recommended by his surgeon. The VA also declined to pay for any counseling to help with his depression or PTSD.

“[The situation] is aggravating in a lot of ways,” Welker told the Marion Star.

He said he has letters from the VA recommending that he be allowed to keep the animals and plans to show those letters to the judge on Wednesday.

The city ordinance that applies to Welker’s situation clearly states 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.”

West Lafayette Mayor Jack Patterson declined to comment on the matter. He referred all inquiries to police Chief Terry Mardis who could not be reached by phone.

Sources: Newsday (AP Story), Coshocton Tribune, Marion Star

Photo Source: Newsday, Wikimedia