Amber Heard, wife of Johnny Depp, summoned to Australia court over illegal dog import

Amber Heard has been called to appear in an Australian court on charges of bringing in two pet dogs and allegedly breaching quarantine laws. Terriers Pistol and Boo were traced in Queensland last May.

Amber Heard and her husband, the US actor Johnny Depp, were in Queensland in May while Depp was filming "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."

Their dogs, Pistol and Boo, arrived in Australia with Heard on board a private jet. Their presence was discovered when they were taken to a grooming salon in late May.

Depp and Heard were then given 72 hours to send Pistol and Boo back to the US with the threat of euthanasia for the tiny terriers if they were not removed. A Department of Agriculture officer escorted the dogs from the couple's mansion on Queensland's Gold Coast to the airport. The dogs boarded a flight to the US just hours before the deadline.

Dogs are subject to strict controls in Australia for biosecurity reasons. A permit is mandatory and a minimum 10-day stay in a quarantine facility on arrival is required.

Heard was charged with two counts of illegally importing Pistol and Boo into Australia and one count of producing a false document, the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions said on Thursday.

The Department of Agriculture said Heard was served with a summons on Tuesday to answer charges for allegedly breaching quarantine laws. Penalties for contravening the Quarantine Act range from fines to a maximum of 10 years in prison. The case is due to be heard in Queensland in September. It is not known if Heard will appear in person.

Heard avoiding Oz

Last month, speaking from the US, Heard told Australia's Channel Seven that "I have a feeling we are going to avoid the land Down Under from now on just as much as we can thanks to certain politicians there," apparently referring to Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

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In May, Joyce had said: "If we start letting movie stars - even though they've been the sexiest man alive twice - come into our nation [with pets], 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."

Joyce said on Thursday: "You come into our nation, you have to abide [by] biosecurity protocols."

The minister said a major fear surrounding the importation of dogs was an outbreak of rabies. "It's not just the people on the streets that would be affected, if that got out into the general wild dog population in Australia, which is massive, it would have devastating effects," he said.

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said on Thursday: "Regardless of whether people are coming in by a Qantas flight or coming on a private jet, they should be subject to the same clearance arrangements and that is the way in which the law is written."

The so-called "war on terrier" between the Australian government and Johnny Depp's family is trending on Twitter as #DogGate.

jm/msh (AFP, AP)