First, we hate this policy also but the ADA does provide for exemptions (see below) to the service dog requirements and Raprager Family Farms is exempt. Here is why…
Raprager Family Farms is a working farm first and foremost. We are open to the public to share the joy of the country, love of farm life, and to educate and enhance our patrons lives.
With that said, we have a bio-security program in place in order to protect our animals and yours. Animals brought in from outside our farm could potentially bring disease or worms or some other foreign body that could cause substantial harm to our animals and vice versa, costing us the hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in our animal program.
Furthermore, we have several animals as part of our animal experience who are natural prey of dogs. The presence of an unfamiliar canine could cause those animals to behave erratically. This would pose an immediate threat to the patrons interacting with those animals on the pasture, especially small children.
Finally, we have guardian dogs who are extremely friendly to humans but are instinctively programmed to protect our livestock from coyotes, bobcats, fox, panthers, and wild canine. Even if your animals are not threatening, they could be perceived as a threat and could be harmed.
We understand your love and in some cases absolute need to have your animal with you. However, it is our duty to protect the health and safety of our livestock and patrons. Allowing outside animals onto our farm would prohibit us from doing so.
If you need special accommodations due to this policy, please contact us in advance, and we will see what other options may be available to aid your visit. Thank you for your understanding.
The follow exept is taken directly from the ADA website. (https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html)
EXCLUSION OF SERVICE ANIMALS
Q25. When can service animals be excluded?
A. The ADA does not require covered entities to modify policies, practices, or procedures if it would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the goods, services, programs, or activities provided to the public. Nor does it overrule legitimate safety requirements. If admitting service animals would fundamentally alter the nature of a service or program, service animals may be prohibited. In addition, if a particular service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, or if it is not housebroken, that animal may be excluded.
Q26. When might a service dog’s presence fundamentally alter the nature of a service or program provided to the public?
A. In most settings, the presence of a service animal will not result in a fundamental alteration. However, there are some exceptions. For example, at a boarding school, service animals could be restricted from a specific area of a dormitory reserved specifically for students with allergies to dog dander. At a zoo, service animals can be restricted from areas where the animals on display are the natural prey or natural predators of dogs, where the presence of a dog would be disruptive, causing the displayed animals to behave aggressively or become agitated….