Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Ohio Veteran With PTSD Fined for Keeping 'Therapy Ducks'

An Ohio veteran has been cited for violating a county ordinance, all because he was keeping 14 "therapy ducks" in his backyard.

The Coschocton Tribune reports that Darin Welker, 36, was fined $50 for keeping his feathered friends, which he claims "help him cope with post traumatic stress disorder and depression" after his tour in Iraq. The local judge was unsympathetic, telling Welker that if the law says no ducks, "then there are no ducks."

Is there anything Welker can do to keep his therapy ducks?

All His Ducks in a Row

While a $50 fine may not seem like a lot, there's still the question of what to do with the ducks. Welker's lawyer Bob Weir says he's "unsure what Welker plans to do next" about his ducks. But as the county judge pointed out, it seems his only options are to give the ducks away or to move.

When we first blogged about this story in July, Welker had all 14 of his ducks, but the flock has thinned a bit since then. The man who served in Iraq has since given away all but six of his ducks, but apparently that's still too many. The county's ordinance doesn't allow any farm animals in the village's limits, so really any ducks is too many.

Therapy Pets Maybe?

Welker attempted to argue, with help from his wife, that the ducks were therapeutic for his PTSD and depression as therapy pets. The Coschocton city council had made effective a law in October that allowed "two therapy pets per household" along with documentation from a doctor and approval from the council.

Since the market for certifying therapy pets is wildly unregulated, it shouldn't be hard for Welker to get this accomplished for at least two of his ducks. But since it seems he may not have the friendliest relationship with the Coschocton local government, he could potentially have trouble getting their approval.

We hope that Welker gets to keep at least a few of the ducks, which he has raised since they were ducklings and "just love to be held."

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