An island dog strolls the Ocracoke Village streets. Photo: C. Leinbach

Guest commentary by OcraCats

Wandering animals on Ocracoke often are not lost or homeless, nor are they free for the taking.

The island has a history of roaming animals, both domestic and livestock. While decades ago, cows, pigs and other farm-type animals roamed the sandy lanes along with pets, the only livestock you’ll see skittering about are typically chickens. These, too, have owners.

But there are virtually no stray dogs on Ocracoke.

Since the village has no leash law (unlike the beach, which is owned by the National Park Service which regulates its use), dogs occasionally can be seen meandering the streets, but they usually are not far from their homes on this small island.  They do belong to someone.

So, visitors are reminded not to take wandering dogs from our streets.

The population of friendly, sometimes elusive, cats is a bit different.

The island has a large population of privately owned and feral cats. Many islanders have multiple house cats that roam off their properties, and there are dozens of feral cat colonies all over the island.

But islanders and the non-profit organization, OcraCats, take care of these colonies, and none of these cats is free for the taking.

Please do not assume any cat you see is feral, abandoned, or in need of help. 

Cats living here should be left here, unless an approved adoption through OcraCats has been arranged.

Concerns about any cat should be addressed to OcraCats at

If you see an injured animal of any kind in the village, please call or text Dr. Laura Trent, DVM, 252-923-3787.

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