Following a health checkup at the North Pole, Santa's veterinarian has given the green light to Rudolph's red nose and the rest of the reindeer that will be traveling the world this Christmas Eve.
Dr. Joe Kinnarney, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, visited the North Pole today to ensure Santa's team of nine were up to date on their vaccinations and healthy enough to make their annual trek around the globe.
"After a thorough examination I can tell you that Santa's reindeer are perfectly healthy and in great shape, and ready for their flight," Kinnarney said.
The reindeer's annual exam includes a health check about 10 days prior to their Christmas Eve flight to make sure they're healthy and not showing any signs of disease - such as brucellosis, tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease - that can be transmitted to other animals.
"Santa's reindeer need to be in tip-top shape to complete their Christmas Eve flight on time, so it's vital that they receive a pre-trip veterinary exam to make sure they are free of any injuries that might slow them down," Kinnarney said. "Because the reindeer will be visiting all corners of the globe, we need to make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and free of disease so they don't pick up or spread any infections to other animals around the world."
In addition to presents for children around the world, Santa is required to bring with him an official "North Pole Certificate of Animal Export" that allows him to freely cross borders and ensure health officials his reindeer are no threat to animal or public health.
Kinnarney will make a follow-up trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to provide a pre-flight checkup and to inspect the reindeer upon their return on Christmas morning.
For kids who want to help the reindeer on their journey, Kinnarney recommended leaving a plate of graham cracker reindeer cookies, their favorite snack, for Santa to feed them between stops.
Kinnarney's work is consistent with the role veterinarians play every day to ensure the health of animals, people and the environment across the globe. Far from just being "dog and cat doctors," veterinarians work with all kinds of species, in all types of environments, to make the world a healthier place for all forms of life.
While unavailable for comment due to his busy work schedule, Santa issued a statement, saying, "Without my reindeer there simply would be no Christmas. Proper veterinary care ensures that, year in and year out, my team and I are able to deliver presents to boys and girls around the world. Dr. Kinnarney is definitely on the 'nice list' again this year."
For more information on Kinnarney's role as North Pole Veterinarian, including answers to kids' questions about reindeer, visit avma.org/holiday.