Friendly Reminder: Beach Laws for Pets

Everyone loves vacationing at the beach, including your pets! The beaches (ocean and sound side) of Hatteras Island welcome pets and their owners to come and enjoy the beauty that the island has to offer. To help keep our beaches clean and insure the safety of others, the National Park Service has issued leash laws for all of the Outer Banks.

As a friendly reminder to all of our guests and pet owners, the National Park Service has issued the following statement:

“Cape Hatteras National Seashore staff asks for visitors’ cooperation in protecting wildlife and other visitors by observing leash laws and by cleaning up after your pets. 

Federal regulations in the National Seashore require that dogs be crated, caged, on a six-foot leash, or otherwise under physical restraint. During the summer months, dogs are prohibited on designated swimming beaches such as Coquina Beach, Buxton Beach or the Ocracoke Day Use area.  

Recent observations of dogs off-leash in the Seashore have resulted in verbal and written warnings and citations. "Unleashed dogs are known to have serious impacts on park wildlife and can be a nuisance or threat to other visitors while enjoying the beach,” stated Superintendent David Hallac. “This is an issue that we take very seriously, especially now in our high visitation period and during wildlife nesting season.”

Park rangers can ticket dog owners $125.00 for each unleashed dog and $125.00 for each dog entering a posted closure for first offenses. Repeated offenders could face up to a maximum fine of $5,000.00 and/or 6 months in jail. Tampering with threatened and endangered species or their habitat requires a mandatory appearance in federal court with possible fines of $25,000 and incarceration of five years. Threatened and endangered species nesting at Cape Hatteras include both shorebirds and sea turtles.

Park visitors also need protection from roaming dogs.  Not everyone welcomes a strange, wet dog charging up to them or their small children while swimming or walking on the beach. Many children and adults are afraid of unfamiliar dogs. Even a “friendly” dog that “would never bite” can act unpredictably towards strangers. A leashed dog is seen as much less of a threat by most people and will allow everyone to have a pleasant experience on the Seashore. Park staff would like to take this opportunity to thank those responsible pet owners who comply with park regulations.” 

For additional information, questions or concerns, please contact the National Park Service at 252-473-2111 or visit

Looking for a pet friendly vacation rental on Hatteras Island? Visit Hatteras Realty's Pet Friendly Homes for a fully list of pet friendly homes at the beach!


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