A veteran who says he came home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder and a major back injury is worried about losing the 14 ducks he has come to rely on. Darin Welker, 36, says the village of West Lafayette, Ohio, has ordered him to get rid of the ducks even though he has a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs' mental health department recommending he be allowed to keep them, the AP reports. He acquired the ducks earlier this year and keeps them in a penned-in part of his backyard, complete with kiddie pools for them to swim in.
Welker, who served in the Army National Guard in 2005, says the ducks help him deal with depression and keep him active. "Taking care of them is both mental and physical therapy," he tells the Coshocton Tribune. Watching them "keeps you entertained for hours at a time," he says. The municipality banned the keeping of fowl or other farm animals years ago, though exceptions have been made for potbellied pigs. Welker was cited last month for failing to get rid of the ducks, and he could face a $150 fine when he appears in court this week. He says he plans to explain to the judge how much the ducks have helped him.