Johnny Depp’s dogs face death after being smuggled into Australia

Posted at 8:35 AM, May 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-14 08:35:51-04

SYDNEY, Australia -- Johnny Depp's dogs are on a deportation countdown after the actor violated Australia's famously strict biosecurity laws by bringing them in on a private flight and without the proper documentation.

The star, who is in Australia filming the latest installment of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, was told that he had to get his two dogs, Yorkshire terriers named Pistol and Boo, out of the country, Australia's Minister of Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said in a televised statement.

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Joyce said that a 51-year-old man, Jonathan Christopher Depp, decided to bring two dogs to "our nation, despite not getting the proper certification and the proper permits required. Basically it looked like he snuck them in."

Threat of death

He started a countdown to a deadline for which Depp, and his wife, Amber Heard, who is traveling with him, need to comply -- or risk the authorities putting Pistol and Boo to sleep.

"Now Mr. Depp needs to take his dogs back to California or we're going to have to euthanize them. He's now got about 50 hours (out of a 72-hour notice period)."

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Joyce made his statement Thursday morning local time, meaning the count will expire on Saturday morning.

The minister said that the Department needed to crack down on this high-profile case to make a point about Australia's stringent animal import laws.

"If we start letting movie stars, even if they've been 'Sexiest Man Alive' twice, to come into our nation then why don't we just break the laws for everybody. It's time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States. After that I don't expect to be invited to the opening of 'Pirates of the Caribbean.'"

After the actor allegedly smuggled the two pooches on his private jet he had an assistant take them to a dog groomer; it was here that authorities were alerted to their presence.

The grooming salon, Happy Dogz in Maudsland, Queensland, posted a grainy photo of Depp with one of the dogs on its Facebook page, along with the message: "It's an honor to be grooming Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's two Yorkshire Terriers."

Quarantine bypassed

The Department of Agriculture told CNN that they were not able to comment on individual cases, but a statement on the its website confirmed that it "became aware of an illegal animal importation on Tuesday 12 May."

The statement continued: "A biosecurity officer attended a Gold Coast property on 13 May and found two illegally imported dogs."

Department of Agriculture animal import laws require dogs spend at least 10 days in a government quarantine facility once arriving in the country. The strict laws are to prevent the spread of non-native diseases such as rabies, ehrlichia, leishmania, leptospirosis and internal and external parasites.