Ohio ex-Guardsman appeals conviction over keeping pet ducks that he says are therapy animals



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COSHOCTON, Ohio — A former Ohio National Guardsman who says his pet ducks help relieve his post-traumatic stress disorder and depression is appealing his conviction for violating a village ban on such animals.

Darin Welker was convicted of a minor misdemeanor and fined $50 for keeping 14 ducks at his home in West Lafayette, 80 miles east of Columbus.

After giving some away, he has six birds with names like Clyde and Lucy. The appeal filed last month in Coshocton County court argues the ducks help maintain a calm environment and have been therapeutic for Welker, who served in Iraq and was medically discharged from the Guard.

His attorney argues that Welker has a medical need and was wrongly convicted.

"There is a pressing need for a more compassionate, humane law which clearly discriminates between the criminal conduct of those who keep animals without medically requiring the same and the medical needs of patients whose welfare and very lives may depend on the prudent, therapeutic use of animals," Welker's attorney wrote in the appeal.

The village contends Welker hasn't presented sufficient evidence that he has a medical need and would face imminent harm without the ducks. Though they are registered as support animals, that list "consists of pets that make their owners feel better" but aren't really therapy animals, an attorney for the village wrote in its response filed Wednesday.

The village council recently amended the local law to allow up to two therapy pets, but Welker's current flock still would violate those rules, The Coshocton Tribune (http://ohne.ws/1zLNXcM ) reported.

Welker declined to comment before the appeal is decided, the newspaper said.

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