Actor Johnny Depp flew his dogs home yesterday, a day after Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce warned him to send them back to the US to be quarantined or face having them put down.
Depp, who is in Australia to film the fifth of his blockbuster pirate movies, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, also faces a formal interview with government officers into how the Yorkshire terriers were allegedly smuggled in, a spokesman for Mr Joyce said.
"Obviously there's an investigation as to how they came into Australia.
"Mr Depp decided that he'd step around our nation's laws," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported that Depp and his actress-model wife Amber Heard, who have made no public comment on the issue, told the agriculture department they would fly out with Boo and Pistol.
But Mr Joyce also said he was "seriously worried" they might not have the right permits to return home and could be left "stateless".
"The question is if he breached our laws, then did he follow the correct laws in the US?" Mr Joyce said.
"My worry is will the US let them back in? If not, will they have anywhere to go?" And that, he added, could lead to them being put down.
"Obviously my preference is not to destroy these two dogs," he said.
Depp appears certain to face a fine for breaching Australian laws under which dogs entering from the US have to spend at least 10 days in quarantine.
"We can't make an exception for Johnny Depp. We have strict laws for a good reason," Mr Joyce said.
Last month, Depp flew in the dogs on his private jet without declaring them to customs. Government officials followed a tip-off after they were seen on the way to a grooming salon.
An online petition calling on Mr Joyce to spare the dogs now has more than 17,500 signatures and has sparked a debate on Twitter.
Billionaire MP Clive Palmer said Mr Joyce had made Australia "the laughing stock of the world" by issuing death threats when quarantine was an option.
Mr Joyce's threats were "a waste of time and will result in a bad reputation for Australia", the Palmer United Party leader said.
The incident highlights tough animal security laws in Australia, which has had no reported cases of rabies in dogs.
This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
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