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Former guardsmen with PTSD appeals after town convicts him for owning therapeutic pets


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(NaturalNews) An Ohio veteran is fighting for permission to keep his pet ducks, which he says have helped him with overcoming the symptoms of PTSD he suffers since returning home from service in Iraq.

Darin Welker lives in West Lafayette, a small village located near Coshocton, Ohio. He served in the Army National Guard and returned from a tour in Iraq in 2005 with PTSD and back injuries.

Welker speaks of how, after struggling for several years with his physical and emotional disabilities after his return from Iraq, he discovered the therapeutic benefits of owning ducks:

I had been suffering depression and struggling to get up and move around due to the pain and mobility issues from surgery. And we was out and this farm we was at had several ducks; they were running around the yard acting goofy.

It brought my spirits up some. So we bought 14 of them.

Welker and his wife, Shirley Wagner, brought the ducks home in March of last year. At first, the ducks lived inside the home, but by May, they were grown enough to move outside into the fenced-in backyard.

That's when the trouble started.

One of Welker's neighbors contacted the village administrator to report that there were 14 ducks in Welker's yard -- a violation of an ordinance against keeping farm animals in the village.

The village police chief responded to the complaint, telling Welker that he had 30 days to get rid of the ducks, but Welker decided to contest the ruling and keep them.

Although he has now given eight of the ducks away, Welker has decided to fight to keep the other six, saying that their presence has been instrumental in his recovery from PTSD:

It's very treatable. Having a half dozen ducks running around in the backyard improves it.

Welker says that the ducks have made it possible for him to stop taking almost all of the medications prescribed to him for the treatment of his condition, and his wife agrees that they have made all the difference.

Mayor Jack Patterson has a different set of views on the matter, however:

The law is the law. That's how I look at this thing. The law at that time said no farm animals -- no chickens, no turkeys no ducks, horses, ponies, cows; that type of a farm animal -- is allowed in the village.

The village has changed the ordinance to allow two "therapy animals" weighing 20 pounds or less to be owned by anyone who can demonstrate a need, but Welker is determined to keep the remaining six ducks which currently live in his yard. His lawyer has filed an appeal petitioning the village to allow Welker to do so.

Welker's attorney stated in the appeal:

There is a pressing need for a more compassionate, humane law which clearly discriminates between the criminal conduct of those who keep animals without medically requiring the same and the medical needs of patients whose welfare and very lives may depend on the prudent, therapeutic use of animals.

The Coshocton County court originally convicted Welker of a minor misdemeanor and fined him $50 for violating the ordinance against keeping farm animals in the village.

While the case is under appeal, Welker has declined to make any comments.

It's difficult to understand why an exception can't be made in the case of a medically discharged veteran, but in light of the current standard of treatment of the majority of the brave men and women who have served our country -- many of whom have returned home with problems that are being systematically dismissed and ignored -- perhaps Welker's dilemma isn't too surprising after all.




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