Speed Reads


Ohio veteran fighting to keep his therapy ducks

After serving in Iraq, Army National Guard veteran Darin Welker came home to West Lafayette, Ohio with a back injury and PTSD. He underwent surgery in 2012, but the physical therapy recommended by his surgeon was not approved by the VA. Willing to give anything a try, Welker turned to ducks for both physical and mental therapy, and to his surprise, it worked.

Today, Welker owns 14 ducks, and has been cited with a minor misdemeanor; in 2010, a law was adopted that states no chickens, turkeys, ducks, or live poultry can live in his village. Welker — who has a letter from the Mental Health Department of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs saying he needs to keep the ducks — says it's hard to think about not having them: "[The situation] is aggravating in a lot of ways."

The ducks help him both physically and mentally, he said. He enjoys feeding them, spending time with them, and watching as the ducks interact. Welker is hopeful the law can be changed, like it was last year for a woman with spina bifida who owns a therapy pot-bellied pig.

Welker's hearing is set for Wednesday, and he said he will share with the court just how much the ducks have helped him with his physical and emotionally well-being.