SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s farm minister has given film star Johnny Depp two days to send his pet dogs home to the United States so they can go through quarantine on their return, or face having them put down.
Depp, 51, is in Australia to film the fifth of his blockbuster Pirates movies, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”.
Last month, he flew in his Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, on his private jet, without declaring them to customs.
Depp cannot sidestep Australia’s tough animal import laws just because he is one of the world’s most famous stars, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said on Thursday.
“Mr Depp has to either take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanize them,” Joyce told media.
“He’s now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs. He can put them on the same charter jet.”
It was not immediately clear where the dogs were.
Government officials went to Depp’s rented house on Wednesday following a tip-off after the dogs were seen on the way to a grooming salon, Australian Broadcasting Corp reported.
The incident highlights tough biosecurity laws in Australia, which has had no reported cases of canine-borne disease rabies. But it may threaten the future of a production worth $250 million.
The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty Ltd, the Australian arm of the company co-producing the movie with Jerry Bruckheimer Films, did not answer a telephone call to seek comment.
Lynne Benzie, the president of Village Roadshow Studios, where the movie is being filmed, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Filming of the latest installment of the $3.7-billion box office franchise started in February but was interrupted a month later, when Depp flew back to the United States for treatment of a hand injury. He broke the animal import laws on his return, Joyce said.
Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Clarence Fernandez