José Arce, DVM, Santa’s personal animal caregiver and president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), visited the North Pole earlier this month to give the reindeer a pre-flight health check, ensure they were up to date on their vaccinations, and make sure they have the required certificates allowing them to travel across state and national borders.
“After a full examination and review of their medical records, I’m pleased to say Santa’s reindeer are healthy, in great shape, and ready to fly on Christmas Eve,” Dr. Arce says.
The annual exam includes a health check to ensure the team is not showing any signs of disease, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, or chronic wasting disease, which might affect their ability to fly or make other animals sick.
In addition to presents for children around the world, Santa is required to bring with him an official ‘North Pole Certificate of Animal Export,’ which allows him to freely cross borders and ensures health officials his reindeer pose no threat to animal or public health, AVMA reports.
“It’s important that we make sure the reindeer aren’t harbouring any diseases they could then potentially spread to animals in other parts of the world,” Arce says. “At the same time, making sure they’re healthy also means they’re less likely to catch any diseases themselves on that long flight around the globe.”
Santa, who was unavailable for comment, issued a statement, saying the health and well-being of his reindeer is essential to the success of his busiest night of the year.
“Without my reindeer there simply would be no Christmas,” he said. “Proper veterinary care ensures that, year in and year out, my team and I can safely deliver presents to boys and girls around the world. Dr. Arce has definitely earned his place on my ‘nice list’ this year.”
“Ho ho ho,” Santa added.
With just over a week to go until the big day, Arce is ringing his sleigh bells for volunteers to join the Emergency Landing and Veterinary Expert System (E.L.V.E.S.), a group whose job is to oversee the well-being of the nine reindeer.
To join, AVMA members can download a badge to let their clients know they are part of Santa’s E.L.V.E.S. support team. To participate, click here.
For more, check out the video below, courtesy AVMA.