Duke University has relented, allowing dogs back into the Sarah P. Duke Gardens two months after banning them.
Dogs on non-retractable leashes of 6 feet or shorter are now welcome before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. in the campus gardens, the university announced in a release Monday.
Visitors must keep their dogs out of plant beds and clean up after them. Other types of pets remain banned, and Duke can refuse entry or remove any dog it thinks might endanger human visitors or other dogs.
The Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden and the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, two specialized gardens within Duke Gardens, will remain off-limits to dogs, in addition to other posted no-pets areas, including all Duke Gardens buildings.
The new policy will not apply to service dogs trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
Duke Gardens had announced a no-pets policy last fall, effective Jan. 1.
It followed a trend that public parks have struggled with as pet ownership has become popular among millennials. A survey by the research firm Mintel showed that three-fourths of Americans in their 30s have dogs.
But Duke Gardens is not a public park.
“We’ve been thinking about this for several years,” director and dog owner Bill LeFevre said at the time, explaining the gardens had become a living museum, especially incompatible with dog waste left on the grounds.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” he said.
But after further discussions with Duke administrators and community members “passionate about both Duke Gardens and their dogs,” the university changed its mind, the release said.
Duke Gardens opened in 1939 and now draw more than 300,000 visitors a year to the 55 acres on the university campus.