An Ohio vet's unconventional form of therapy is ruffling some legal feathers: He's been cited for owning therapy ducks.
Iraq veteran Darin Welker of West Lafayette is facing a minor misdemeanor for owning 14 ducks, despite the fact that he claims they are therapeutic for his PTSD and back injury. The Marion Star reports that while the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) was willing to pay for Welker's back surgery, it didn't cover any physical or emotional therapy.
So what legal quack said it's wrong for Welker to keep his therapy ducks?
Ducks Allegedly Violate Local Ordinance
We've warned urban farmers that their "hipster hens" could violate a city ordinance, but we never anticipated therapy ducks.
In 2010, lawmakers in West Lafayette enacted an ordinance preventing "chickens, turkeys, ducks, live poultry, or fowl of any kind" from being kept legally in the village. In fact, the only live animals allowed are dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, certain birds, and mice.
According to Section 618.23 of the West Lafayette law, violating this ordinance is a "minor misdemeanor," and each day the animals are kept in violation is a separate offense. Luckily for Welker, a minor misdemeanor citation is not generally an arrestable or jailable offense. Each county is allowed to set its own fine schedule for traffic offenses and minor crimes, and in Coshocton County, most fines with costs are around $150 to $200.
Still, if those duck citations are all lined up in a row, Welker's therapy ducks could prove quite costly.
Other Therapy Pets Approved
While Welker has to report to Coshocton Municipal Court for a hearing on his 14 illegal therapy ducks, other animals have been allowed for therapy purposes. The Star reports that the Coshocton City Council approved a legal change allowing "one pot-bellied pig per household" -- with a doctor's note, of course.
If pigs can be therapeutic, why not Welker's feathered friends? Maybe he just needs a prescription. According to the Star, a woman with spina bifida was able to bring about the change in the pot-bellied pig prohibition by getting a prescription from her doctor affirming "the pig was effective and should be used as a therapy animal."
Paging Dr. Dolittle...
- Injured Iraq veteran cited over 'therapeutic' ducks by Coshocton County village (The Associated Press)
- Pet Duck Attack Leads to $275K Injury Lawsuit (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Is 'Therapy Kangaroo' Legal? Okla. Woman Fights to Keep Marsupial (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Service Animals Allowed in 'No Pet' Apartment? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)