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Army Veteran Could Lose His 14 Therapeutic Pet Ducks

An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq War is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic. Darin Welker said officials in the village of West Lafayette told him to get rid of the ducks in May and cited him for a minor misdemeanor on June 23 for failing to comply. Walker is scheduled to appear in Coshocton Municipal Court for a hearing Wednesday and could face a $150 fine. Welker, 36, says the ducks help him with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and keep him more active.

West Lafayette, about 80 miles east of Columbus, banned residents from keeping fowl and other farm animals in 2010. Welker served a year in Iraq with the Army National Guard in 2005 and said he came home with a major back injury that required surgery in 2012.

The Department of Veterans Affairs paid for the back surgery but declined to pay for physical therapy recommended by his surgeon and did not provide him with counseling, he said. That's partly why he has come to rely on the ducks, he said. The 14 ducks live in a penned-in area in Welker's backyard, which also has kiddie pools so they can swim.

Image: Iraq war veteran Darin Welker, 36, holds one of his ducks at his home in West Lafayette, Ohio on July 10
Iraq war veteran Darin Welker, 36, holds one of his ducks at his home in West Lafayette, Ohio on July 10. Welker, who served a year in 2005 for the Army National Guard, says his 14 pet ducks serve as mental and physical therapy for him. Trevor Jones / Coshocton Tribune via AP

IN-DEPTH

- The Associated Press