Australia's Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce fears star actor Johnny Depp might not be able to get his two pet dogs back into the US, meaning the animals could be put down.
The ABC understands Yorkshire terriers Boo and Pistol, who were brought into Australia without being declared to quarantine, are due to be flown out of the country on Friday.
But Mr Joyce said he was "seriously worried" they might not have the right permits to get back into the US and could be rendered "stateless".
"The question is if he breached our laws, then did he follow the correct laws in the US?" said Mr Joyce in a statement.
"My worry is will the US let them back in? If not ... will they have anywhere to go?"
If the US will not accept Depp's dogs, there is a serious chance the animals will be put down.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star also appears certain to face a massive fine for breaching Australia's strict quarantine laws.
"We can't make an exception for Johnny Depp," Mr Joyce said.
"We have strict laws for a good reason."
The two terriers are believed to have been brought into the country on Depp's private plane last month so their owner could resume filming on the Gold Coast for the latest Pirates Of The Caribbean movie.
The Department of Agriculture is investigating how the dogs were not detected during a routine inspection.
The ABC understands Depp's plane was inspected but there was nothing remarkable on the flight manifest.
Who let the dogs out?
Mr Joyce first declared the dogs had to be out of the country within 50 hours during a run-of-the-mill media conference at the doors of Federal Parliament in Canberra on Thursday morning.
It has since become one of the biggest stories in the world.
Some senior ministers, perhaps mindful of the international publicity, are hoping a solution can be found.
But they are also privately pleased Australia's strict quarantine laws have been put into the spotlight on the world stage.
A US embassy spokeswoman said US residents were encouraged to do their research before travelling abroad.
"The US department of state advises American citizens travelling to Australia that Australian customs authorities enforce very strict regulations concerning the importation from all countries of items such as agricultural and wood products, as well as very strict quarantine standards for other products, animals and pets," the spokeswoman said.
Since the news broke, fans of Depp have rallied online calling on the Agriculture Minister to spare the dogs' lives.