I have no idea, not being an Australian lawyer, whether actor Johnny Depp will really be locked up and away from his screaming fans for smuggling his two Yorkshire terriers into the country on his private jet. (But at least I didn’t put any bad puns into the headline, like the Guardian’s caption about the “Ruff time” he may be facing.)
No, the reason I clicked on the related headlines (the only reason, honest) is that it serves as a reminder that international quarantine laws are real, and that those fuzzy, feathered, or scaly creatures that we might think of as little family members are viewed as carriers of disease and other dangers by those who enforce these laws. (Why else would importation of cats and dogs to the U.S. be under the control of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)?)
In order to bring a dog into the U.S., you will need to be sure that it is healthy and has received a rabies vaccine if it’s from a country where rabies is present. If traveling to Hawaii or Guam, the dog may need to be quarantined.
What if you pull a Johnny Depp, and don’t comply? That qualifies as a federal crime under 18 U.S. Code Section 545. It may get you fined and punished with up to 20, count ’em, 20 years in prison. (The maximum penalties are no doubt reserved for the most severe smuggling cases, but still . . . .)
And don’t even try bringing in an African rodent or a monkey.
See “Bringing Your Pets When You Immigrate to the U.S.” for more information.