Facing the threat of imminent death, Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo are preparing to flee back to the United States after Australia's agriculture minister angrily accused the Hollywood actor of sneaking the pups into the country.
Barnaby Joyce said he was told the Yorkshire terriers were expected to return to the US aboard a private jet, after the government ordered the actor to get his dogs out of Australia by tomorrow or they would be euthanised.
Joyce said that the dogs' imminent Down Under departure was "the best news that I've got".
The canine chaos erupted after Joyce accused Depp of smuggling the dogs aboard his private jet when he returned to Australia on April 21 to resume filming of the fifth instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series at Gold Coast studios.
Australia has strict quarantine regulations to prevent diseases such as rabies spreading to its shores.
Bringing pets into the country involves applying for a permit and a quarantine period on arrival of at least 10 days.
The Agriculture Department told Depp (51) and his 29-year-old wife Amber Heard on Wednesday that they had to send Pistol and Boo back to the United States within 72 hours or the animals would be euthanised.
"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 laws for everybody?" Joyce said.
"It's time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States."
The doggie drama proved popular on social media, prompting a petition to save the pooches and the hashtag #WarOnTerrier.
In Australia, Joyce's tough stance attracted both commendation and criticism, with some praising the minister for defending the nation's laws, and others cringing over what they viewed as his crass response.
During an interview, radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands said the minister had invited the wrath of all dog lovers and had made Australians sound like "a bunch of hillbilly redneck losers".
Joyce, undeterred, responded that the law was the law. Sandilands then unleashed a torrent of insults at Joyce - calling him a clown and a disgrace - before the minister retorted: "You're a savage little man, aren't you?" The interview promptly ended.
The agriculture department discovered that Depp snuck the dogs into Australia after hearing that a handler had taken the terriers to a Gold Coast dog groomer on Saturday, Joyce said.
A biosecurity officer found the dogs at a Gold Coast house on Wednesday.