Johnny Depp's dogs 'to leave Australia' after death threat
Actor Johnny Depp's dogs are expected to leave Australia to evade a death threat, the country's agriculture minister has said.
Barnaby Joyce had said Boo and Pistol would have to be put down by Saturday if they did not leave, because they were "snuck in" from the US.
Mr Joyce told the BBC he believed they were leaving by private jet on Friday, which he said was "the wisest move".
But he has also expressed concerns the dogs could now be left stateless.
"The question is if he breached our laws, then did he follow the correct laws in the US?" Mr Joyce told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"My worry is will the US let them back in? If not... will they have anywhere to go?"
Johnny Depp is living in Australia while filming the fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
He and his wife Amber Heard are accused of not declaring the Yorkshire Terriers to customs officials when they flew into Queensland by private jet last month.
Australia has strict import laws to prevent non-native diseases entering the country.
The fate of the dogs has gripped Australia and world media.
An online petition calling on Mr Joyce to spare them now has more than 17,000 signatures and it sparked a debate about the #waronterrier on Twitter.
Dog row sparks #waronterrier
"I get that Johnny Depp broke the law by not telling someone about his dogs but the response is death? That's the largest over-reaction ever," said Alexis Rogers on Facebook.
Facebook user Bree Graham MacTaggart agreed: "They don't have to kill the dogs. They could just quarantine them."
Others, however, did not express much sympathy for the Hollywood actor.
"Very disappointed that Johnny Depp has acted so irresponsibly - he flouted the law," said Facebook user Rebecca Gracey.
The dogs should have been properly checked and certificated and then quarantined after arriving in Australia.
Their illicit entry appears to have been uncovered after a grooming salon on the Gold Coast posted pictures of them on its Facebook page.
Mr Joyce said on Thursday: "If we start letting movie stars even though they've been the '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."
Mr Joyce meanwhile had demanded an apology from a radio presenter who accused him of over-reacting.
Kiis FM "shock jock" Kyle Sandilands told Mr Joyce in an angry telephone interview on Friday that he sounded "like an absolute clown" who made Australians "sound like a bunch of hillbilly redneck losers" by publicly threatening the life of someone's pets.
"Sound like a classy guy. You're a government minister. Have some decency."
Mr Joyce replied "it's the law, mate; that's how it works," before he was cut off.
Customs officials are facing questions over how the dogs were let in despite the strict regulations, while Depp and Heard could face a fine.
Can you take your dog to Australia?
- Yes, but only if it came from an approved country, is not pregnant and is not a banned breed or domestic/non-domestic hybrid
- The dog must first be fully vaccinated and microchipped before it can get an import permit
- Within 45 days of travel it has to test clear for diseases including Ehrlichia canis, Leptospirosis, rabies and parasites
- Five days before travel it must be health-checked by a government-approved vet in the export country
- On arrival it must go into government quarantine for a minimum of 10 days on arrival, longer if it is seen as coming from a riskier country or it shows signs of ill-health
- Private jets are subject to the same regulations as any other vessel or aircraft
Can you bring your dog back to the US?
- Yes, as long as it is from a country free from rabies and screw worm - Australia is clear of both
- California, where Johnny Depp lives, requires owners of dogs older than four months to have a certificate of rabies vaccination
- The rules are stricter for anyone looking to import a dog to sell - the dog must undergo a veterinary check within 10 days of arrival
- No dogs younger than four months can be brought in to the US