Veteran's pet ducks kept to relieve PTSD, depression violate local law, Ohio court agrees



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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A former Ohio National Guardsman violated a local ban by keeping pet ducks that he says help relieve his post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, a state appeals court concluded as it upheld his earlier conviction for a minor misdemeanor.

In a ruling filed Monday, three judges for the Fifth District Court of Appeals said Darin Welker didn't sufficiently prove that he needs the ducks and that there is no workable alternative. A letter from a therapist indicated the ducks help Welker's mental health, but there was no sign that alternatives, such as a permitted type of emotional support animal, wouldn't work.

He "failed to present sufficient medical evidence showing that the ducks were necessary and that the harm of living without the ducks is clear, imminent" and not reasonably avoidable, the court opinion said.

Welker's been convicted of a minor misdemeanor and fined $50 for keeping more than a dozen ducks at home in West Lafayette, 80 miles east of Columbus. He eventually gave some ducks away, leaving him with a half-dozen.

Welker says they're therapeutic after he served in Iraq and was medically discharged from the Guard.

Welker told The Coshocton Tribune he plans to appeal again and didn't want to comment further before talking to his attorney.

A message seeking comment was left for his attorney Tuesday.

After Welker's case made its way to court, village officials amended the local law to allow up to two therapy pets, though Welker's flock was still too big to meet that threshold.

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