Daniel the Duck helped owner, Carla Fitzgerald, handle her PTSD while on her first flight since an accident in 2013

By Kelli Bender
Updated October 20, 2016 08:58 PM
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Like many of the other passengers on a weekend flight from Charlotte to Asheville, North Carolina, Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt walked through the aisle mid-flight to stretch his legs.

However, unlike the other passengers, Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt’s legs ended in webbed feet.

Better known as Daniel the Duck, this passenger decided to forgo using his wings so he could fly with his owner Carla Fitzgerald. Daniel is a certified emotional support animal, who helps his 37-year-old owner battle the post traumatic stress disorder she has had since an accident in 2013.

According ABC News, Fitzgerald went on her first flight since the 2013 accident last weekend and brought Daniel along to help her through. The working duck accompanied his owner on two flights, one from Fitzgerald’s hometown of Milwaukee to Charlotte and the other from Charlotte to Asheville. On each flight he was a joy not only to his owner, but the entire plane as well.

Credit: Courtesy Mark Essig

“Everyone just took notice of him and fell in love,” Fitzgerald told ABC News. “I mean, he’s an adorable, funny and sweet little guy. He was very well behaved at the airport and during the flight.”

For the plane rides, Daniel dressed in his Captain America diapers and red shoes, both of which proved to be crowd-pleasers.

Many of the passengers paused to capture this rare moment on camera and share it with their social networks, including Lesser Beasts author Mark Essig.

Credit: Courtesy Mark Essig

Even among all the adoration, Daniel didn’t forget his duties. He sat with Fitzgerald through the flight, offering kisses and hugs to his companion to keep her calm. This is similar to what Daniel does for Fitzgerald when they are on the ground. The duck helps his owner sense oncoming panic attacks, putting his head on her chest to signal it is time to lie down and relax.

Overall, Daniel gives his owner the confidence to tackle challenges, like air travel, that can seem difficult when dealing with PTSD. She hopes his new found fame shows people the amazing things ducks can do.

Credit: Courtesy Mark Essig

“Some people have therapy dogs. Others have cats. I have a duck,” Fitzgerald said. “I hope more people can accept that a duck can make a very good, loving and loyal companion and support animal.”