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Go walkies or die: Australia's ultimatum to Johnny Depp's dogs

Australia is rather well known these days for the dim view it takes towards unwelcome arrivals. The latest entrants: two small dogs belonging to the man twice voted Sexiest Man Alive, actor Johnny Depp.

Australia's Agriculture Department on Wednesday gave Depp 72 hours to remove his dogs from the country, or said they would be put down. Depp appears to have ignored strict Australian quarantine rules and brought the dogs in last month on his private jet, without declaring them to customs.

Depp is in the north-eastern state of Queensland to film the latest instalment of his successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise.

"If you start letting movie stars - even though they've been the sexiest man alive twice - to come into our nation [with pets], then why don't we just break the laws for everybody?" Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce told reporters on Thursday.

"It's time Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States," Joyce added. "He can send them back or we will have to euthanize them." He said he first became aware Depp had "snuck them in" after the dogs were spotted being taken to a groomer.

The department is investigating how the pets were brought through Brisbane airport without a permit.

Australia has strict quarantine rules to prevent diseases such as rabies arriving on its shores. Those wanting to bring pets to Australia must apply for a permit and quaratine their animals on arrival for at least 10 days.

The opposition Labor party used Parliament question time to ask whether the conservative Abbott government's funding cut to quarantine was to blame. Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon accused Joyce of "bashing up on poor old Boo Boo and Pistol and, indeed, Johnny Depp."

The online petition has been started to save the pets, while the hashtag #WarOnTerrier trended online. Some Twitter users made comparisons to the Abbott government's controversial policies on asylum seekers - which the UN has condemned.

Joyce said he did not expect to receive an invitation to the premiere of Depp's movie.

jr/msh (AP, AFP)

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