Depp fell foul of Australia’s tough biosecurity regulations when he smuggled Yorkshire terriers Pistol and Boo into the country without authorisation on his private jet. The 51-year-old heart-throb – twice voted the world’s sexiest man – is currently living on Queensland’s Gold Coast during filming of the fifth instalment of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise.

The discovery of the dogs provoked a furious response from agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce, who said it was time Pistol and Boo “buggered off back to the United States” and decreed that they must be deported or destroyed. Depp was given a 50-hour deadline to fly the dogs out of the country by Saturday morning – or face having them put down.

Depp not surprisingly heeded the stark warning, with Joyce telling ABC NewRadio on Friday that the terriers were set to leave the country. “I’m informed that Pistol and Boo are preparing to fly on a private jet back to the United States, which is the best news that I’ve got,” he said. “Obviously there’s an investigation as to how they came out to Australia. Mr Depp decided that he’d step around our nation’s laws.”

Boo and Pistol were rumbled after they were taken to Queensland’s ‘Happy Dogz’ grooming service for a pampering session. Owner Lianne Kent posted on Facebook that it had been “an honour” to attend to the pets.

Australia’s tough biosecurity laws are designed to keep out dangerous canine diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis. However, Joyce’s threat to euthanise Pistol and Boo – rather than putting them in quarantine – was viewed as barking mad by many pet lovers. A series of petitions set up to save the animals’ lives soon drew hundreds of signatures.

Joyce was also blasted by Sydney shock jock Kyle Sandilands on his KIIS FM morning show. “You sound like an absolute clown telling the guy to bugger off back to Hollywood or we’ll kill his dogs. You sound like an idiot,” said Sandilands. “You’re a government minister, not some idiot off the street mouthing off to a news camera. Have some decency.”

The minister fired back: “Jeez, Kyle, that seems interesting coming from you, mate. You’re a savage little man, aren’t you.”

The Australian government allowed two capuchin monkeys to be brought into the country for filming – once they had undergone proper quarantine processes.