Army veteran Darin Welker, 36, has been raising 14 ducks as a form of therapy after sustaining a back injury in Iraq in 2005. Welker started keeping the ducks in the yard of his West Lafayette, Ohio home since March of this year, and has since received citations from town officials, who are demanding he get rid of the ducks. West Lafayette officials are citing a law adopted in 2010 that expressly forbids the keeping of "live poultry or fowl of any kind" (among many other animals).
Welker told the Coshocton Tribune that while the Department of Veteran Affairs agreed to pay for the back surgery he needed in 2012, but did not approve physical therapy or mental health counseling. He's taken up raising ducks instead:
Welker acquired his ducks in March when they were just days old. He had first heard the idea of using ducks as therapy weeks before and thought it wouldn't hurt to try, he said.
He feeds them and takes care of them, which helps him physically, he said, and sometimes he just spends time with them or watches them interact with each other, which helps him mentally.
"Taking care of them is both mental and physical therapy," Welker told the Coshocton Tribune. "(Watching them) keeps you entertained for hours at a time."
According to the Tribune, the town has made exceptions before for people keeping animals for therapy:
Last year, the Coshocton City Council approved a change to a law regarding the keeping and raising of farm animals in city limits to allow one pot-bellied pig per household. The pig must be registered within 30 days of ownership with the mayor's office, and a doctor must verify the pig is a therapy pet.
That change came as a result of one resident, Mary Smith, who used her pot-bellied pig as therapy for her scoliosis and for her wheelchair-bound daughter's spina bifida.
Welker says he has a letter from the Mental Health Department of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that recommends he keep the ducks.