Amber Heard Charged With Smuggling Dogs Into Australia, Johnny Depp Got Off Scot-Free
Talk about true love.
Amber Heard is taking the fall for husband Johnny Depp for violating Australia’s quarantine laws by smuggling in contraband pups Boo and Pistol. The pups became global stars after being ordered out of the country or else facing death.
Heard has been charged with two counts of illegal importation contrary to the quarantine act and one count of producing a false document (it was not specified what document that was). She faces as much as 10 years in prison, or fines as high as $100,000.
Via the Associated Press,
Heard was issued a summons to appear in a Queensland court on Sept. 7. Her lawyers could petition the court to appear on her behalf, but given the seriousness of the charge, it’s likely she’ll need to appear in person, particularly if she is in Australia at that time, said Bill Potts, a criminal defense attorney based in the Queensland capital, Brisbane.
Even if she is convicted, Heard is unlikely to face a lengthy jail term since the dogs were flown back to the U.S. before a 72-hour deadline, Potts said.
“The seriousness of the offense is not whether two little puppies — who look like they could give you a nasty nip on the ankle — are dreadful animals, it’s about the risk to biosecurity,” Potts said. “Was there a risk? Potentially, but not actually. And I’m sure the court will take all of those things into account.”
Australia has strict quarantine regulations to prevent diseases such as rabies from spreading to its shores. Bringing pets into the country involves applying for a permit and quarantine on arrival of at least 10 days.
Boo and Pistol were illegally brought Down Under via a private jet back in April. Heard was presumably visiting Depp, where he was filming Pirates of the Caribbean 5. They failed to declare the two Yorkshire terriers, violating Australia’s Quarantine Act 1908.
Without proper certification and permits, Boo and Pistol were considered contraband. Australia is notoriously strict when it comes to their animal-, foodstuff- and agricultural-importation policies. In order to have complied with their biosecurity, Heard and Depp would have had to start the process more than six months in advance, make multiple visits to the vet in the US, and have the dogs complete a 30-day stay in an Australian quarantine center.
Australian officials found out about the pups in May after a dog groomer posted a photo of Depp with his dogs on Facebook, captioned by “It’s an honour to be grooming Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s two Yorkshire Terriers.” Oops!
At the time, Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, gave them a 72-hour window to remove the dogs, or else they’d be euthanized as punishment for smuggling them in. “There is a process,” he said. “You get the permits, they go into quarantine, then you can have them. If we start letting movie stars, even though they’ve been the sexiest man alive twice, to come into our nation, why don’t we just break the laws for everybody?”
Depp and Heard complied, and Heard flew with the pups back to L.A. Heard commented on the issue last month while promoting Magic Mike XXL on Australia’s Sunrise show. “I have a feeling we’re going to avoid the land Down Under from now on, just as much as we can, thanks to certain politicians there,” she said. “I don’t know, I guess everyone tries to go for their 15 minutes, including some government officials.”
On Thursday, Joyce commented on Heard’s charges and biosecurity, telling reporters, “The law is the same for everybody. There is no preferential treatment here. You come into our nation, you have to abide biosecurity protocols.”