Dr. René Carlson, President of the World Veterinary Association, and former President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), has taken on another big job this month. She’s filling in as the Official Veterinarian of the North Pole, which means René is the one woman responsible for ensuring that Santa’s team of nine reindeer are ready and able to make their annual trek around the globe next week.
Earlier in December, Dr. Carlson made her first visit to the North Pole to give the reindeer a thorough annual exam, which includes making sure they’re up-to-date on their vaccinations. “We need to make sure the reindeer aren’t harboring any diseases that they could then potentially spread to animals in other parts of the world,” said Dr. Carlson. “At the same time, making sure they’re healthy also means that they’re less likely to catch any diseases themselves on that long flight.”
Upon her return, Dr. Carlson thankfully declared Santa’s reindeer to be healthy and disease free. She also gave them full “RTF” (“Ready To Fly!”) status, so Christmas 2014 IS ON people!
“All of them are in healthy condition and are all ready to go for Christmas Eve.”
To make it official, Dr. Carlson signed the “North Pole Certificate of Animal Export,” which gives Santa the documentation he and his reindeer need to travel freely across global borders.
According to the AVMA, Dr. Carlson will make a follow-up trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve for one last pre-flight check, primarily to make sure the reindeers’ feet and legs are in good shape to take off and land on rooftops. She’ll also perform a nose-check on Rudolph to make sure it’s “good to glow.”
During the all-important flight, Dr. Carlson will be on call in case any emergencies arise, and when the reindeer return to the North Pole on Christmas morning, they’ll get one final exam to make sure they didn’t injure themselves or get dehydrated on their epic journey.
For anyone who expects a visit this year, Dr. Carlson recommends leaving a plate of graham cracker reindeer cookies, a favorite snack of the legendary, flying sleigh pullers. Apparently Santa likes to feed his reindeer between stops, so leaving cookies (not carrot sticks… amateurs) is a great way for mere mortals to help the magical reindeer along their journey. And all this time we thought the cookies we left out were for Santa. Who knew?
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. Carlson is definitely on the ‘nice list’ again this year.”