Darin Welker, an Army veteran who was wounded during the Iraq War, credits his 14 ducks for helping him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. However, a minor misdemeanor citation for having fowl could separate the Ohio man from his beloved companions, The Associated Press reports.
On June 23, Welker received the misdemeanor citation for housing the ducks in his backyard in West Lafayette, located about 80 miles east of Columbus. He will appear in court this Wednesday and could face a $150 fine.
The town of West Lafayette banned residents from keeping fowl and other farm animals in 2010, but Welker hopes that the Coshocton Municipal Court judge will understand his unique predicament.
Welker suffered a major back injury while serving with the Army National Guard in 2005 in the Iraq War. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs paid for him to have back surgery in 2012, the VA did not cover his physical therapy or provide him with counseling.
Without counseling, the Army vet turned to his ducks to aid his mental recovery, and the VA’s mental health department has recommended that he be allowed to keep them.
“They’re quite a relaxing animal, and they help comfort me in different situations,” Welker explained to the Coshocton Tribune. “[Watching them] keeps you entertained for hours at a time.”