We have reverted to our original policy, operational from 1947 to 2017, of banning dogs (assistance dogs excepted) from the Botanic Garden for the following reasons:
- Health & safety/damage. We host over 11,000 school children per year who roam over the entire garden. These are obviously a prime concern. Determining what a “well behaved” dog is, is subjective: one person’s friendly playful dog is another’s threatening and intrusive animal. Furthermore, despite the fact that many dog-owners are responsible and clean up after their dogs, there are some who do not and it is unfair and wrong to expect the gardeners to do it. Furthermore, urine from female dogs in particular causes damage to lawns and many of our precious flower beds are adversely affected by being used as urinals. Nearly all other botanic gardens in Britain, including Kew, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol and Birmingham, operate a ‘no-dogs’ policy for these or similar reasons. The same is true for very many National Trust properties.
- Role of a botanic garden. The Botanic Garden is primarily for teaching and research. Whilst it is undoubtedly a lovely place to come to, and we encourage such visits, it is not a dog-walking facility. Dog-walking sends out the message that the Garden is like a public park, which in turn encourages ball games, bicycle-riding, etc., none of which is acceptable.
- Community opinion. Surveys conducted in the Garden show that visitors greatly value the Garden as a tranquil, dog-free zone, safe to enjoy without having to worry about being accosted by dogs (not all are kept on short leads). The numbers are compelling: of those who expressed an opinion, 99% who did not own dogs were against allowing them in the Garden; and 74% of people who did own dogs were also against having them in the Garden (total 278 respondents).