Thirty-six year-old Iraq war veteran Darin Welker went through a lot on the battlefield. He’s still haunted by nightmares replaying the horrors he saw — including images of landmines blowing up children — and endures physical pain from a back injury sustained on duty in 2005. Though the Department of Veterans Affairs paid for the back surgery he needed in 2012, they denied his requests for recuperative physical therapy and mental therapy, so he was left alone to find a DIY solution.
One Green Planet readers are well aware of the therapeutic benefits that come from living with animals. After learning that ducks could be used as therapy pets, Welker decided to give them a try. Last March, he brought home 10 Pekin ducks and four mallards, then only a few days old, and has been raising them ever since.
Maintaining the ducks keeps him active, which helps his physical problems, and watching them play and interact with each other keeps him in a peaceful state of mind. Anyone who has watched ducks at the park knows how calming and meditative they can be.
Sadly, his village of West Lafayette, Ohio wants him to give up his ducks because of a local law that prohibits the possession of certain types of poultry and livestock. The City Council has made an exception to this law before, to allow a mother with scoliosis and her wheelchair-bound daughter keep a potbellied pig. Welker is hoping they will make an exception for him, too, and is planning to plead his case to a judge on Wednesday, July 23. We wish him luck!
To stand up for Darin Welker and his 14 therapy ducks, contact West Lafayette Mayor Jack L. Patterson via telephone at (740) 545-6327, or email him at [email protected]. A Care2 petition on the topic that has earned over 6,000 signatures so far is available here.