• I’d like to welcome you to the Animal Protective Services Department. Southport is a very pet-friendly city, and we take pride in our reputation for strong animal welfare initiatives and community resources. In addition to household pets, Southport’s beautiful waterfront brings a diverse variety of wildlife to our city. My calls for service can be unique, and I strive to help any animal in need. My focus is to educate both residents and visitors on local animal ordinances to ensure their pets remain safe and are humanely treated. If you have any questions or concerns regarding animals, please contact me and I will do my best to assist you.

Kate Marshall, Animal Protective Services

Mission Statement

  • The mission of Animal Protective Services is to promote an environment of responsible pet ownership by protecting the safety and welfare of Southport’s animals and citizens.
  • Animal Protective Services strives to provide quality service and education to all residents and visitors while ensuring the humane treatment of animals. We strive to foster an improved human-animal bond through progressive animal welfare initiatives, community outreach, and humane education in a culture of compassion and integrity.

The Southport Animal Protective Services include:

  • Enforcing the City of Southport’s Animal Welfare Ordinance
  • Enforcing the State of North Carolina rabies laws
  • Investigating animal cruelty complaints
  • Investigating animal bites

Animal Protective Services can also provide education and classes to the public:

  • Dog Bite Prevention and Animal Safety Programs
  • Community Cat Programs
  • Responsible Pet Ownership Classes

Animal Protective Services provides information on Pet Safety:

  • Summer Safety for your pets
  • Golf cart safety
  • Hurricane checklists and disaster preparedness

Concerns/Questions/Complaints or to Report Animal Cruelty:

Contact the Animal Protective Services Officer 910-477-1486

If you have an animal emergency or you need to report an injured animal, please call 911.
The appropriate authority will be contacted immediately.

FAQ’s City of Southport Animal Welfare Ordinances

1. Are my pets required to have vaccinations?
YES. All dogs, cats, or ferrets over the age of four (4) months must be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed Veterinarian or NC certified rabies vaccinator.

2. Are my pets required to be licensed in Southport?
YES. All dogs and cats within the city limits are required to be licensed annually. You can conveniently license your dog online at southport.docupet.com
Cost is: $15.00 altered $25.00 unaltered

3. Are dogs required to be on a leash?
YES. All dogs must always be under control using proper restraint. Voice commands do not count as under restraint. They are not allowed to run at-large on any street, sidewalk, beach area or park without a leash.

4. What local beaches allow dogs off-leash?
Southport beaches do not allow dogs off-leash at any time.
Oak Island beaches allow dogs off-leash between October 16 and March 15 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. where signage allows.

5. Can my dog ride in my golf cart?
YES. Dogs can ride in golf carts, however for the safety of your pet, it must be secured by a harness, leash or animal carrier to prevent it from falling, jumping or being thrown from the golf cart.

6. Can I tie my dog up outside all day?
NO. Tethering (tying) your dog outside can only be temporary in nature, and while you are home and within eyesight of your dog. You must provide water and protection from the elements while your dog is outside.

7. Can I leave my dog in the car while I shop, even if I crack open the windows?
NO. You should NEVER leave a dog alone in the car, even with the windows cracked. The inside of a vehicle parked in 70-degree weather can reach 100 degrees in just 20 minutes. On very hot days, temperatures inside parked cars can climb to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in less than one hour. Cracking a window changes these figures very little.

8. I found a stray dog, what should I do?
Contact Southport Animal Protective Services at 910-477-1486 or Southport Police Department at 910-457-7911 to report a stray dog. We will respond and attempt to locate the owners.

9. Do I have to pick up my dog’s waste when I walk my dog?
YES. Anytime your dog defecates off your property it must be cleaned up immediately. Dog waste stations are located throughout the city for your convenience.

10. Are cats allowed to be outside in Southport?
YES. The City of Southport supports the Community Cat Program. A Community Cat is an outdoor cat that is abandoned, stray or feral and cared for by a community cat caregiver. This program also includes Trap/Neuter/Return, so these cats are spayed/neutered and vaccinated for Feline Distemper and Rabies. You may notice these cats have one ear “tipped” to identify them as being fixed.

Welcome to the Dog Park!


Dog Park Rules



Canine Behavior/Communication

  • If you have never been to a dog park, familiarize yourself with canine play before visiting the
  • A first visit to a dog park visit can be stressful for canines and Consider visiting the park at non-peak times.
  • Do not overreact to normal Being overly protective may make your dog nervous and aggressive.
  • Understand canine communication. Dogs may bark or snap to “set their limits” with other dogs or to let the other dog/s knowthey are being too
  • Dogs have various ways to communicate their dominance to other dogs. This may include:
    • Stiff-legged posture with head held up and back
    • Raised hackles on the back
    • Raised tail
    • Laying across another dog’s shoulders or back
    • Ears back and down
  • Be sensitive to other dogs Watch your dog/s carefully, and be prepared to intervene if the interaction seems to beaggressive.
  • If your dog seems to be pestering or annoying another dog, divert his/her attention This means you and your dogshould move to another part of the park.
  • If your dog/s becomes fearful or anxious, do not force them to

Prevent Problems – Be Alert

  • Know your dog/s: Monitor situations carefully and be prepared to intervene before behavior escalates into a full- fledged
  • Do not bring dogs with aggressive tendencies to the You are risking harm and creating a potential liability for yourself.
  • If a dogfight occurs, owners are responsible for breaking it Both owners must get control of their dog/s at once. If theowner gets control of his/her dog/s but the other owner does not, it creates a very dangerous situation for the first dog and owner.

The safest way to break up a fight:

  • Pull the dog/s apart from
  • Grab the tail or hind DO NOT grab the collar or put your hands near the dog’s head.
  • Both owners should grab their dog/s at the same
  • Each dog should then be leashed and removed from the park immediately.
  • Other owners should get ahold of their own dog and divert their attention The sight of a fight sometimesentices other dogs to get involved.
  • If your dog bites another dog, exchange information with the other dog This is a civil matter to be settled privatelybetween members. If your dog bites a human call 911.

Children in the Dog Park

  • The dog park is a place for people to enjoy their dog/s.
  • Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult and strictly supervised.
  • You are responsible for your child’s
  • Most dogs are curious and friendly; not all dogs are child friendly.
  • Dogs may feel threatened if a child runs toward them, yells or grabs at
  • Dogs often run fast and play vigorously, and they may inadvertently knock down and hurt a child.
  • If you bring a child to the park, please make sure he/she knows these rules:
    • Do not wave arms, run, scream, chase or tease
    • Do not pet any dog/s without asking permission from their owner first.
  • Your main responsibility is to monitor your dog/s, and to be prepared to intervene if there is any sign of trouble.


If I do not live in Southport, can I use the dog park? The dog park is available to Southport residents only.

What identification do I need to have on my dog entering the park? Dog owners must have their Southport pet license and current rabies tag affixed to their dog’s collar at all times when in the park.

If my pet is a service dog, do I need to purchase a Southport dog license and register my dog? Yes, you will still be required tolicense and register your dog.

Does my access to the Dog Park expire? Dog park access expires Dec. 31 of each year and are renewed on an annual basis. You willneed to maintain your dog/s pet license each year to reactivate your access.

Can I transfer my dog’s collar tag to a different dog? No. You are responsible for licensing and registering each dog that uses the Dog park. Tags are not to be shared.

What if I lose my access fob? Contact Animal Protective Services at 910-477-1486 during business hours. The replacement fee is$10.00 per fob.

What if I lose the dog’s collar tag?  Replacement tags may be purchased through DocuPet.  Contact them at southport.docupet.com

What are the hours of the dog park? Park hours will coincide with Taylor Field Park which is from dawn to dusk. The dog park may be closed periodically for scheduled maintenance, as well as other times as needed.

Whom do I inform when an incident occurs at the park? If you have a safety issue that needs addressed please follow these steps:

  • If it is a safety emergency (if a person is seriously hurt or in immediate danger of being seriously hurt), please call
  • To report suspicious activity or rule violators during please fill out an incident report online here or email APS
  • For maintenance issues, contact Parks & Recreation at 910-457-7810 during business

Can I bring more than one dog to the dog park? No more than two dogs are permitted per dog owner at one time. Professional dogtrainers are not permitted to conduct training on-site.

Are toys permitted at the dog park? Yes. We do ask that all Frisbee, chuck-it & ball throwing take place at the back of the off-leash zone to avoid people & dogs being struck by flying objects.

Can I bring my young children with me? Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult and strictly supervised. Notall dogs are child-friendly. Never allow your child to approach or pet a dog without the owner’s permission. All dogs have the potential to bite.

Will the dog park be policed or monitored by City of Southport staff or Animal Protective Services? There will not be a staff person stationed at the dog park at all times; however, staff may monitor the areas periodically.

When does my dog have to be on a leash at the park? Dogs must be leashed at all times outside of the Dog Park. The large and small off-leash areas are intended for off-leash activity.

My dog is on a correction collar; why can’t I use it at the park? Correction collars (such as prong, shock, etc.) can inflict pain, injurethe dog wearing the collar and the dogs he plays with during romp time at the park. If you are using a correction collar to walk yourdog/s, consider switching to a front clipping body harness for better control.

Why is it important to keep close supervision on my dog in an enclosed area? As a courtesy and for the safety of other attendees,each owner must supervise and control their dog’s behavior at all times while visiting the park.

What do I do if I see someone not following the rules?  Everyone is encouraged to hold others accountable. If you see someone notfollowing the rules (e.g. doesn’t pick up dog waste), introduce yourself, remind them of the rule, and thank them when they followthrough. If we expect to have a great dog park, we must work together!

Should I bring my dog to the park when it’s really hot? Because of the danger of heat illness (to yourself and your dog/s), it is not advisable for extended use of the park during the heat of the day.

Is there a restriction on breeds allowed in the park? There is no restriction on the breed of dogs allowed in the park. However, pleasemake sure your dog gets along with other dogs, people, and children.


Please note that any incident involving bodily injury to a person or dog requiring medical attention should immediately be reported by calling 911. This form should be completed to the best of your ability for all incidents involving aggressive dog behavior & incidents involving rule violations regardless of the severity.

Location of Incident(Required)
Injury Occurred?(Required)
Southport Animal Protective Services/Police Department notified?(Required)

Welcome to DocuPet Pet Licensing!

The City of Southport has partnered with DocuPet to provide an enhanced dog licensing experience. DocuPet specializes in creating and managing pet licensing programs. It’s our job to ensure that every dog in the community is licensed. Once compliant, our program offers additional value to guardians through our HomeSafe™ and Pet Perks Programs.

City of Southport pet tags can now be purchased online via the DocuPet Platform at southport.docupet.com, over the phone with a DocuPet customer service representative, via mailed in form, or in person at Southport City Hall.

Please click here for more information.

Have you started your holiday shopping list yet? Get a head start with a DocuPet designer tag for your furry pal! Until December 15th, you can get any tag from DocuPet’s “Happy Howlidays” collection for only $5. Remember, your pet’s designer tag doubles as their official City of Southport license! 



Donate pet food at Indian Trail Meeting Hall!
Located at 113 W Moore St, Southport, NC 28461

I was bitten by a dog/cat/ferret. What happens now?

  1. All dog/cat/ferret bites that are treated at a Healthcare Facility are required by NC law to be reported to the local Health Department, Animal Protective Services or Law Enforcement.
  2. An attempt will be made to locate the animal that bit you. If the animal can be located, the rabies status of the animal will be determined, and a mandatory 10-day quarantine period will begin (regardless of the rabies status).
  3. Health Department guidelines will determine where the animal will be quarantined.
  4. After the 10-day quarantine period, you will be contacted with the status of the animal.
  5. Always be sure to follow your physicians’ instructions and the recommendations of the local Health Department.

Prevent Dog Bites

Dog Bite Prevention Week takes place during the second full week of April each year, and focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites.

Learn how to prevent bites in four simple steps.

My pet bit someone. What happens now?

  1. All dog/cat/ferret bites that are treated at a Healthcare Facility are required by NC law to be reported to the local Health Department, Animal Protective Services, or Law Enforcement.
  2. If your animal has been identified as the animal that caused the bite, you will need to provide proof of current Rabies vaccination.

North Carolina rabies law requires that all owned dogs, cats, and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age (NCGS 130A-185)

  1. A mandatory 10-day quarantine period will begin (regardless of the rabies status).
  2. Health Department guidelines will determine where your animal will be quarantined. If it is current on the Rabies vaccine, a home quarantine can be considered if all requirements are met. If it is not current, you will be required to board your pet at a Veterinary Facility that can accommodate a quarantine, or it will be transported to the Brunswick County APS. All charges for the 10-day quarantine period will be at the owner’s expense.
  3. After the 10-day quarantine period, the animal’s health will be evaluated, and you will be contacted with the status of the animal.
  4. Citations may be issued for any violations that occurred.

Wildlife Questions & Concerns

Animal Protective Services will respond to Wildlife calls for service and follows NC Wildlife Resources Commission guidelines for interacting with local wildlife.

Human-wildlife interactions are becoming more common with the rise of human populations and development of natural areas. There are many techniques that humans can utilize on their property to maintain positive interactions with wildlife. The information below provides general techniques and preventative measures for N.C. residents to prevent and alleviate issues with wildlife. Keep in mind that wild animals are in search of food, water, shelter and safety. Eliminating these needs on your property can greatly reduce wildlife problems.

Do not feed wildlife

Feeding wildlife can cause animals to lose their fear of people and become accustomed to human presence. This can lead to animals becoming aggressive and can increase the spread of wildlife diseases. Additionally, human food is not healthy for wild animals, and they do not need food from humans to survive.

NC Wildlife Resources Commission: Preventing Wildlife Conflicts (ncwildlife.org) or Call 866-318-2401. The Wildlife Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Found a Bird that Needs Help? Visit Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter or Call Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter’s injured/sick bird line at (910) 294-2555.


  1. Who picks up dead animals?
    Property owners are responsible for disposing of dead animals on their property. The animal can be buried or left to decompose naturally. The City of Southport Public Works department may remove dead animals on city-maintained roadways if it is causing traffic concerns.
  2. If a wild animal is out during the day. Does it have rabies?
    NO. Simply seeing an animal out during the day does not mean it has rabies. Some animals in urban/suburban locations will come out during the day due to the lack of threats posed by people and the abundance of food available. However, if the animal shows signs of rabies- such as aggression, stumbling, unresponsiveness, or foaming at the mouth- call the APS department.
  3. Will APS or NC Wildlife Resource Commission remove a wild animal from my yard or neighborhood?
    APS and NC WRC do not provide any trapping or wildlife removal services. If the animal is causing property damage, you should contact a Wildlife Control Agent. Wildlife Control Agents are trained professionals that can assess the problem and obtain a Wildlife Depredation Permit if warranted.
  4. Can I trap animals on my property?
    NO. The Animal Welfare Ordinance Sec. 3-4. – Permit required—Unlawful to trap animals does not allow trapping without a permit.
  5. What should I do if I find injured wildlife?
    Animals will often be more aggressive if they are injured. Be extremely cautious when approaching any potentially injured wildlife. If an injured animal is found, please call APS for assistance.
  6. I found a baby animal, what should I do?
    If you have found a juvenile animal by itself, it is very important to first determine whether it truly is orphaned. Many animals will be left alone during the day so that predators are not alerted to their presence. If the animal does not have any visible wounds and appears active and alert, chances are it is not truly orphaned, and the parents are close by keeping an eye on things. It is always best to leave the animal alone. If it is still there in 24 hours, call APS for assistance.
  7. If I touch a baby bird will the mother abandon it?
    Birds do not readily abandon nests because they “smell humans”. However, if a nest is repeatedly disturbed by humans (especially before the eggs hatch) a mother bird may choose to abandon the nest if she believes the area is no longer safe. If you find a young bird on the ground that is featherless or fuzzy and has closed eyes, try to locate the nest and gently place the bird back inside the nest. If the bird has feathers, has open eyes, and appears alert it has likely fledged the nest and is being cared for by its parents on the ground.

Kate Marshall
Animal Protective Services
Office: (910) 457-7911

Hear from Kate about what Animal Protective Services does:

2023 Southport Symposium featuring Animal Protective Services

Let us know how we are doing:

Customer Service Survey: Animal Protective Services

During your most recent interaction with Southport Animal Protective Services, was the officer professional and courteous during the interaction?(Required)
Do you feel that all your questions and/or concerns were addressed during the call/visit?(Required)
May we contact you to follow up on these responses if we have a question?(Required)
If yes, please provide your contact information below: