Depp's dogs: Australia gripped by Terriergate

Media outside Johnny Depp's rented house in Coomera on the Gold Coast, Australia (14 May 2015) Image copyright EPA

Maybe it was because they had spent the past week poring over government budget documents, or maybe this story was just too good to ignore.

But the Australian media has gone into overdrive after news broke that Johnny Depp may have broken quarantine laws by not declaring his Yorkshire Terriers when they flew into Queensland.

It wasn't long before a posse of reporters had gathered outside the Gold Coast estate where the dogs are being held in quarantine prison.

There is a dog's breakfast of online stories, and commercial TV networks have sent choppers up in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Pirates of the Caribbean star and his customs-busting mutts. Even the nation's venerable financial journal, The Australian Financial Review, has got in on the act.

Media interest in the story is so intense a mini economy has sprouted up outside the estate with a catering van arriving to feed the press, according to the Courier Mail.

Image copyright ABC/Happy Dogz
Image caption The dogs were discovered when a picture was posted of them at grooming parlour

#WarOnTerrier: Australia reacts to Depp's dogs

It might all sound like a bit of fun but Australian quarantine laws are no joke.

Live animals and plants, plant material, animal products and some food from overseas can't be brought into the country without government permission because they can introduce some of the world's most serious pests and diseases into this island nation.

Those who flaunt the rules face fines of more than A$66,000 ($5,400; £34,000) and risk 10 years jail.

As an example of how serious it can be, in 1995 a 500km (310-mile) by 200km quarantine zone was established in northern Queensland just to control foreign fruit fly maggots.

So, it's lucky Depp didn't bring any bananas with him.

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