Ohio veteran Darin Welker was ordered to remove his therapy ducks from his West Lafayette home. The Army veteran was wounded in Iraq and suffers from PTSD. Welker says his 14 pet ducks are therapeutic. The Ohio Right To Farm Act could help protect the Ohio vet’s small livestock if he chose to engage in commercial breeding or production activities.
Darin Welker was cited with a minor misdemeanor on June 23 for having ducks in his West Lafayette yard. When he appears in Coshocton Municipal Court for a hearing about the therapeutic ducks on Wednesday, he could face a $150 fine and lose his beloved pets. West Lafayette is about 80 miles east of Columbus.
The 36-year-old Army veteran believes the pet ducks held relieve depression and the side effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, and keep him active in the process. In 2010, the city of West Lafayette banned citizens from keeping fowl and other livestock within the municipality.
Mayor Jack Patterson declined to comment on the now viral story garnering international headlines. West Lafayette Police Chief Terry Mardis has not yet been able to be reached to issue a comment about the Ohio vet’s therapeutic ducks.
Darin Welker has this to say about being ordered to get rid of his 14 pet ducks:
“They’re quite a relaxing animal and they help comfort me in different situations. Watching them keeps you entertained for hours at a time. 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. The situation is aggravating in a lot of ways.”
The Army veteran obtained the 14 pet ducks in March after learning the animals were successfully used for therapy. If he had a prescription to have the animal for therapeutic purposes, he would likely get an exemption from the ordinance as did another resident with a therapeutic pot-bellied pig. In 2012, the VA covered the necessary surgery on Welker’s back, but declined to approved the physical therapy recommended by his surgeon. The VA also would not provide any mental therapy for the Iraq War veteran. The West Lafayette man has not been able to work outside of his military service since 2000.
Excerpt from the West Lafayette ordinance which was cited to order the removal of the veteran’s ducks:
“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.”
Excerpt from Ohio’s right to farm law:
“Agricultural production” means commercial aquaculture, apiculture, animal husbandry, or poultry husbandry; the production for a commercial purpose of timber, field crops, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees, flowers, or sod; the growth of timber for a noncommercial purpose if the land on which the timber is grown is contiguous to or part of a parcel of land under common ownership that is otherwise devoted exclusively to agricultural use; or any combination of such husbandry, production, or growth; and includes the processing, drying, storage, and marketing of agricultural products when those activities are conducted in conjunction with such husbandry, production, or growth.”
What do you think about the Ohio Army veteran being ordered to get rid of his therapy ducks and the VA hospital treatment decisions for Darin Welker?
[Image Via: Coshocton Tribune]