Leash Laws and Pet Rules – Wilmington NC, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach

Dogs playing on the beach. Leash law information for areas around Wilmington.

As dog owners in Wilmington, we’re always looking for fun things we can do with the whole family, including Teddy, on the weekends.  We take him on nice, long leash walks but he also loves to run and play off his leash.  Since we can’t bring the kids to the dog parks in Wilmington (not to mention our golden retriever isn’t very friendly at the dog parks), we have to find places where Teddy is free to run around off-leash.  For this reason adn for your convenience, we’ve put together the leash laws and pet rules for the beaches of Wilmington, NC, New Hanover County and Pender County.  Please leave a comment if you know of any updates to these laws and pet rules.  Thanks and Enjoy!

Wilmington, NC Leash Law

Wilmington, NC adheres to the New Hanover County leash law which means when a dog is off its owner’s property it must be controlled by the means of a leash.

Citations (2012): Dogs/Cats/Ferrets Running-at-Large, Leash Requirement

  • First Violation: $25.00
  • Second Violation: $75.00
  • Third or More Violations: $500.00

Wrightsville Beach Leash Law and Pet Rules:

  • Your pet must always be on a leash while in the Town of Wrightsville Beach.
  • You are required to clean up after your pet, and have the means to do so, at all times, and dispose of pet waste in available trash cans.
  • No pets are allowed on the beach strand from April 1 through September 30. Pets must be on a leash if on the beach strand from October 1 through March 31.
  • Never leave your animal in a vehicle!
  • Violation of these pet regulations may result in a $250 fine for the first offense!

Town of Carolina Beach Pet Rules:

  • All dogs are required to be on a leash at all times.
  • Dogs are allowed on the beach from November 1st to February 28th.
  • You must have a plastic or paper container that can be used to clean up and contain dog waste until it can be disposed of in an appropriate container.
  • This container must be on your person at all times, and must be produced and shown, upon request, to anyone authorized to enforce this ordinance.

Freeman Park, Carolina Beach Pet Rules:

  • The north end of Pleasure Island is dog-friendly.
  • Dogs are required to be on a leash from March 1st to Oct. 31.
  • The rest of the year (November 1 through February 29) dogs are allowed off leash, but they must remain under voice command and the owner must be within a reasonable distance.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area Pet Rules:

  • Dogs on leashes are allowed on the beach at Fort Fisher year round.

Carolina Beach State Park Pet Rules:

  • Dogs must be on a leash (no more than 6 feet) and are not allowed in any park buildings or swimming areas.

Kure Beach Pet Rules:

  • You may walk your leashed dog on the Kure Beach strand from October 1st to March 31st.
  • However, it is unlawful for any person to have or allow their dog to be upon the beach strand of Kure Beach during the period of April 1st through September 30th of each year.
  • Anyone violating this ordinance is subject to a civil citation in the amount of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for the first offense, and the second offense shall subject the person to a misdemeanor charge.
  • Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area allows dogs on their beach year-round. Call 910-458-5798 for directions and additional information.

Topsail Beach Pet Rules:

  • Dogs are allowed on Topsail Beach but they must be on a leash from May 15th through September 30th. At other times (October 1 through May 14) the dog must be under voice command of a responsible person, but does not have to be on a leash.
  • The person must always be prepared to remove any waste left by the dog. These regulations apply to the entire town including the beach.

North Topsail Beach Pet Rules:

  • Dogs must be on a leash at all times, year-round. The town’s law calls for the leash to be no more than 25 feet long.

Surf City, NC Pet Rules:

  • Surf City has a year-round, no exceptions leash policy. If a dog is not on property owned or rented by the pet owner, the dog must be on a leash.

Please note that laws may have changed since we posted this information. Please check with the individual city’s for the most up-to-date information. Let us know if anything should be updated on our site.

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • My dog, Rowdy, and I thank Topsail Beach for allowing us to fully enjoy your beach during the off-leash months. We have a blast and love meeting with the many other visitors and their dogs that come to Topsail for this reason alone!

  • Jenna k says:

    Do you know of any outdoor bar/restaurants in the Carolina beach area that allow dogs? Thanks!

    • WilmingtonNC says:

      Hi Jenna, You may want to check out Lazy Pirate and/or the Last Resort. We are not 100% sure so you might want to call them before going.

  • marjon says:

    Spunky and mini Cooper want to thank topsail beach also for giving freedom and a chance to enjoy life. Its amazing to me that there are such few places available like that. Mother nature doesn’t only belong to humans. Thank you for your post. Very helpful

  • Could not find anything that confirms or denies the leash law as far as Support dogs. I enjoy the beach but have a knee problem and got the dog for aid – should I need it. Please help. We are coming to Carolina beach this coming weekend and staying for a week.

  • Mike Fox says:

    I think it’s totally reasonable to have our leashed dogs on the beach after 6:00pm during the summer. Why can’t this simple rule be passed.
    Our buddies deserve some beach time too.

  • Jen Wease says:

    I am terribly disappointed that carilina beach and kure beach have become so dog unfriendly.
    It has caused me to reconsider this area for home ownership, or even vacationing. Time to be more forward thinking.

  • VideoPortal says:

    Very dog friendly beaches. Just need a 6 foot leash. And please pick up after your dog so we don t lose our beach privileges!

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