Screw the pooch

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Johnny Depp’s dogs do not deserve death

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. June 2, 2015

Many dog lovers and fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean series were holding their breath in mid-May when Johnny Depp faced threats from the Australian agricultural minister. The two-time Sexiest Man Alive was caught smuggling his Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, into Australia. The country has strict animal security laws that are put in place to prevent spread of rabies among domestic dogs. This meant that Depp’s beloved pets faced threats of euthanasia, and he himself, jail time.

No dog deserves to die because of their owner’s folly, and certainly not ones that have no legitimate case of rabies. You think Depp’s cutie little dogs are going to hurt anyone or anything? If you do, then it might be better to put you down.

Obviously I understand the severity of the case: Australia is not located far from countries where stray dogs run rampant, such as Indonesia. And with such a rough history of animal infestation—remember the Rabbit Proof Fence erected to keep pests from invading Western Australia?—it is natural to take caution with such an event.

The government is mighty powerful, but I believe this event was more of an opportunity for the Australian government to assert its might and alert travellers that the law is not to be trifled with. Threatening a celebrity’s pet—or anyone’s pet—is akin to threatening their children. It’s a big deal. They want people to remember the threat next time they are tempted to smuggle pets into the country.

Still, it ultimately comes across as a farce. Politicians killing little dogs sounds like the first scene of House of Cards, doesn’t it? The government handled the situation tastelessly. It made them appear like bullies rather than the cautious obedient mutts they are. I agree that Depp should not have any higher form of treatment than us normal people, and with that being the case, just fine him. Why resort to murder? Why does something need to die just because you want to teach a celebrity and the world at large a lesson?

It’s understandable for the government of Australia to feel undermined by a big-shot movie star—yes, the one from Mortdecai—but no one was harmed and animals deserve to be with their owners the same way children deserve to be with their parents. Perhaps Depp should have known better, but thanks to his folly, we all know how uptight the Australian agricultural security is.

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