Johnny Depp's dogs taking night flight home to avoid Australia death threat

Fri May 15, 2015 6:25am EDT
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Film star Johnny Depp is flying his dogs home from Australia on Friday, a day after the farm minister warned him to send the pair back to the United States 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 minister Barnaby Joyce told Reuters.

The dogs would be flying out "sometime this evening", he said.

The incident highlights tough animal security laws in Australia, which has had no reported cases of rabies among dogs.

Last month, Depp flew in the dogs on his private jet, without declaring them to customs but government officials followed a tip-off after they were seen on the way to a grooming salon.

An online petition calling on Joyce to spare the dogs now has 17,500 signatures and has sparked a debate on Twitter.

"Hade a restless night worrying about Johnny Depp's dogs. I hope they make it home okay," one @pete_mccarthy tweeted.

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Actor Johnny Depp poses during a photo session ahead of a news conference for his movie "Mortdecai" in Tokyo January 28, 2015.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai