State vet gives clean bill of health to Santa’s reindeer for travel from Alaska for toy drops


Alaska State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Gerlach issued a series of health certificates allowing Santa’s reindeer to travel from Alaska across state lines for toy delivery. While this annual effort attracts attention, it’s just a regular day for the Office of the Alaska State Veterinarian, the Department of Environmental Conservation noted in a press release.

Office of the State Veterinarian is part of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Environmental Health and is responsible for carrying out a wide variety of programs protective of both animal and human health, which in turn safeguards the health and food capacity of Alaska’s livestock, reindeer (both magical and non-magical), and poultry, and prevents the transmission of animal disease to humans, DEC wrote.

What does this look like on a day-to-day basis? The work that Dr. Gerlach, Dr. Sarah Coburn, and their team do includes:

  • collaborating with veterinarians and partner agencies across the state to address issues such as tick surveillance and rabies outbreaks in Alaska
  • conducting dairy inspections that look at both the health of the animals and the milk they produce to achieve a Grade “A” designation
  • ensuring all domestic animals are cared for in the event of an area-wide emergency
  • overseeing requirements for safely growing and selling produce in Alaska

“As you can imagine, I regularly work with livestock veterinarians around the world,” said Santa Claus, according to the DEC. “I can confirm that Dr. Gerlach and Dr. Coburn are top-notch, and are a real gift to Alaskans all year!”

The project has so far confirmed that Santa’s reindeer are safe to land on roof tops in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Texas.

In Pennsylvania, the governor even issued a press release about it, with quotes from the governor. Gov. Tom Wolf was joined by Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding and Pennsylvania State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill to meet Santa and his nine reindeer at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Thursday to announce that the reindeer had received a clean bill of health and are cleared for take-off on Dec. 24.

“I’m excited to announce that Santa’s reindeer are in good health–despite one’s very bright red nose–and ready to deliver toys to the good girls and boys of Pennsylvania tomorrow evening,” said Gov. Wolf. “I’m grateful to the Department of Agriculture for coordinating to ensure not only a merry Christmas morning across the commonwealth but keep animals in Pennsylvania safe and healthy. All nine reindeer are physically fit and in good spirits, they’re ready to fly this holiday season.”

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph received clearance to fly to Pennsylvania from Alaska’s Dr. Gerlach. This Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and Permit to Ship certifies them to fly from rooftop to rooftop across the commonwealth for the purpose of toy delivery on Christmas Eve.

“Thanks to Dr. Brightbill and his counterpart in Alaska, we can certify Santa’s reindeer are healthy and can safely fly across state lines,” said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Veterinary health inspections are a great preventative measure to ensure animals are healthy and able to travel. We greatly appreciate Santa taking these necessary steps to promote the wellbeing of his reindeer.”

(We just report the news here. Don’t be a Scrooge!)


  1. What else are state employees going to do to get through a 37.5 hour workweek, with 6 weeks of paid vacation, 16 paid holidays, and conferences to attend?

  2. Democrats are taking the much loved childrens santa story a bit too far. This is not miracle on 34th street. That was just a movie . Christmas is about a little baby and a manger story and his gift of salvation. A story nicholos, the man santa derived, much loved and his reason to give and why he served his neighbors before himself cause nicolous was a christian which more and more americans all calling the true christmas story a myth. I think if nicholas could see how atheistic we had become he more likely be an christian evangelist preaching the gospel to lost and fallen people who don’t even recognize they are lost than dropping gifts at neighbors homes.

  3. I think there are a lot of Grinches out there. I applaud the State of Alaska vets who are trying to bring a little humor and levity to a world that seems to be lacking a sense of humor.
    Merry Christmas

    Here is a link to a version of The Night Before Christmas

  4. My Mother used to say: “They need God”. She would also say “I can always tell if they’re Christians; there is a special light in their eyes when they smile; an aliveness.” I did see that at the church we attended five times a week. They loyally carried each other’s burdens. Immersed in these small town views it was shocking to enter the Anchorage larger town networks. Same thing at the churches though singing familiar songs at Lutheran and other churches, welcoming newcomers, sharing concerns at each one at different stages of life. While outside faith meetings there was unrelenting chaos. Those without faith happily took the lead in character assinations and imagined harms with endless interpersonal accusations. No one can imagine cases of someone actually knowing God. The scriptures say God says “Was that not a case of knowing me?” This is what God looks for: CASES of knowing Him.

  5. Glad he got clearance… FAA weather observers are forbidden to report sightings (not sure about air traffic control, but the clearance should cover that) – because that is the exclusive domain of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)… Look up NORAD – they have a Santa Tracker.

  6. So Christians always sweet talk? Jesus, our Commander who we footstep follow said there would be a time when He will say…”Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you.” So, the baby is now the Commander and Judge. Jesus said to religious and the learned in the important spots in His day: “Outwardly you appear beautiful but inside your skirts is the blood of saints”. So, they conspired against his life as those similarly situated vociferously continue to do in Alaska today. He noted they work at harming good people. They dislike learning new things themselves though. Tricky. Full of tricks. Clever. Tricky.

  7. I don’t think there was ever any doubt. Santa takes very good care of his reindeer – but you cannot be too careful! He also has several reindeer in reserve that are ready to pitch in during emergencies. The actions of the State vet are only a formality as a staff of three elves take care of the stables full time. And one is a certified vet also.

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