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Veteran cited for ducks hopes for law change

By: Associated Press
July 24, 2014 Updated: July 24, 2014 at 12:58 pm
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In this Thursday, July 10, 2014, photo, ducks belonging to Iraq war veteran Darin Welker roam around the backyard of his home in West Lafayette, Ohio. Welker was cited with a minor misdemeanor June 23 for having the ducks in his yard. He is scheduled to appear in Coshocton Municipal Court for a hearing Wednesday and could face a $150 fine. An Army veteran who was wounded during the Iraq War, he is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic. (AP Photo/Coshocton Tribune, Trevor Jones)

COSHOCTON, Ohio — An Army veteran who says his pet ducks help relieve his post-traumatic stress disorder is now hoping for a change in the Ohio village law that prohibits him from keeping the animals in his backyard.

Darin Welker, who served in the Army National Guard, was cited for violating a ban on keeping farm animals in West Lafayette, about 80 miles east of Columbus. He and his attorney said Wednesday that village officials are considering the possibility of a new law.

"The village is in agreement and willing to negotiate a new village ordinance for animal therapy," Welker's attorney, Robert Weir, said.

Village Council Member Ron Lusk would only say that the council and mayor are trying to work out a solution to the problem and that will include taking a look at the ordinance to see if any changes are needed.

Lusk said he couldn't comment further because the case is still in court. But he did add that he and other village administration officials are military veterans and wouldn't do anything to slight other veterans.

Welker says his back was injured in the service and his 14 ducks provide physical and emotional therapy. He says they ease his depression.

A Coshocton Municipal Court hearing scheduled Wednesday on Welker's citation was continued for 60 days, and Weir said he hopes something can be worked out by then.

Welker had wanted to have his day in court, even after a Pennsylvania stranger paid his $140 fine and court costs. He said he now hopes for a new ordinance that would let him keep his ducks.

"I think this shows that it's important to stand up and fight for what's right," Welker said.

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