Hello Fellow Bird Lovers, Yesterday I read about a disabled Iraq veteran who may be required to get rid of his small flock of pet ducks because of a town ordinance prohibiting chickens, turkeys, ducks and other livestock. He considers these ducks to be his therapy animals, as they help him fight his depression. Also, the physical activity required to care for them makes him get up and move around, providing an informal version of the physical therapy that the VA denied him after his back surgery. If you would like to get involved, here are some links to news stories with more information. After that, there is a link where you can sign a petition on change.org, if you are interested, and a copy of the letter that I sent to the mayor of the town where Mr. Welker lives. Thank you. --April, aka Sydney Acres Town Tells Veteran He Can't Have Therapy Ducks http://time.com/3012264/duck-therapy-ohio-darin-welker/ Iraq War vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks Ohio town says Iraq vet's 14 therapy ducks not allowed Here is a link to the online petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/ja...LIW0wIwHWnuq3o3nZQzEO2K9I3IX2RRnvLR6oLa0qp0nX And here is the letter that I wrote to the West Lafayette mayor: To: [email protected] Re: Mr. Welker's ducks -- a possible solution Dear Mayor Patterson, I have read about the controversy with Mr. Welker and his pet ducks. I do not envy you, having to balance a town ordinance specifically prohibiting ducks with the need of Mr. Welker for therapy animals. I would like to offer you an impartial, big picture perspective, and some possible options to resolve this difficult situation. As someone who's career is devoted to the human:animal bond, I see the importance of pets in people's lives every day. There are numerous studies showing how pets decrease depression, delay or prevent suicide attempts, and taking care of pets prevent owners with physical pain from remaining sedentary, providing both informal physical therapy and mental stimulation. So there is no doubt that these ducks do provide Mr. Welker with the benefits that he claims. In regards to therapy animals, it is well established in our society that therapy animals are allowed to work in areas where other animals are not allowed. As an example, guide dogs for the blind are allowed everywhere, including restaurants, when other dogs are expressly forbidden. It is common to see signs stating that all animals, except assistance animals, are prohibited in a particular place of business, both at government and private facilities. The question comes up as to whether or not a duck can qualify as an assistance animal. It is true that most people think only of dogs as assistance animals, but there are numerous and well established alternatives to dogs. Ponies are now commonly used instead of dogs as guide animals for the blind because they live longer. Monkeys are used for wheelchair-bound people because they are more agile and can do tasks requiring more dexterity than dogs. Cats are used to assist people who are hearing impaired, and need to be alerted when the doorbell rings or the tea kettle whistles or the fire alarm goes off. So clearly assistance animal status is not limited to dogs. Assistance animals are made up of which ever species can do the job required, and for Mr Welker, ducks fill that need. So how do you balance these conflicting interests, the need to obey the law vs the need to allow Mr. Welker to keep his pets that are clearly so beneficial to him? Given the long-established expectation that therapy and assistance animals are allowed in places where others are prohibited, perhaps the local governing body that created the ordinance can add a few words to it: "except assistance animals." Just like almost every sign prohibiting pets at a place of business. Nothing new or radical, just "normalizing" the rules so that they fit the ever-changing needs of the people you govern. Of course there will be some dissension. There will be people that feel that the ducks are noisy or smell or draw flies or degrade the neighborhood. There will be people that feel that a few ducks might be fine, but that 14 are just too many. There will be some people who just don't like it, and don't need a reason. But there are solutions to all reasonable objections. Too noisy -- include a noise ordinance, but don't make it lower than would be allowed for a barking dog. Too smelly or draws flies -- use Sweet PDZ (http://www.sweetpdz.com/chick.html) to control odor, set up fly traps, and require a county health inspector or veterinarian to inspect and certify the facility every 2-6 months on a schedule, and in response to any complaint that may be filed. Degrades the neighborhood -- organize a work party to help Mr. Welker build a privacy fence so there will be nothing for people to see and find offensive. Concerns that everyone will be bringing in any and all livestock and claim them as therapy animals -- require certification from a psychologist before an animal can be considered a therapy animal. Concerned that 14 ducks are too many -- limit the number that a person can have, but only if there is a limit on numbers of dogs and cats, and make it equal to those limits. Concerned that the ducks may be a source of disease -- require that the ducks pass a health exam every year. Neither the town nor Mr. Welker can afford all these certifications or a fence -- submit a request for crowd sourcing to raise the money, and you'll get a flood of donations. For every hurdle there is a solution, if someone has a true desire to fix a problem. This man gave up his whole quality of life when he chose to serve his country. That was a tremendous sacrifice. It would only be right for those around him to give up a little of their time, or effort, or imagination to show their appreciation for his service, and the sacrifices that he has been forced to make. It appears from the news video that the ducks are well cared for, that his property is beautifully maintained, and that he does not have extremely close neighbors. Is there any real reason to make him give up one of the few things that make his life better?? The VA has already let him down by denying him needed physical therapy. Hopefully he will not be let down by his local government as well. This is a solvable problem, if only someone has the will to take a stand and see it through. Thank you for your consideration.