Special to The SUN
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) yesterday issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. Dec. 24, 2017, and 7 a.m. December 25, 2017, through or over any U.S. border port.
“It’s the season of giving and joy. Here at USDA we don’t want anything to delay these very important reindeer at our borders,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We know that children all over the country – including my own fourteen grandchildren – are eagerly awaiting a visit from Mr. Claus and his team before they wake on Christmas morning. USDA issued this permit in advance and waived all applicable fees to help ensure a smooth trip on Christmas Eve night.”
In addition to the normal disease testing requirements, flying reindeer must undergo additional tests to ensure they will be able to safely handle significant changes in altitude and temperature throughout their journey, and are fit for landing on rooftops. On this year’s health certificate, the accredited veterinarian noted that one of the reindeer named Rudolph was positive for “red nose syndrome,” however, it was also explained that this is normal for him and not an animal health concern. The veterinarian also verified the reindeer have been vaccinated against any diseases they could encounter on their trip around the world.
At the request of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, APHIS also completed a courtesy welfare and humane treatment check of the reindeer facility. Mr. Claus and his staff passed with flying colors.
They will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh with jingling bells attached, filled with brightly wrapped gifts. Port personnel will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry, and will also conduct a short visual inspection of the reindeer. Mr. Claus will also have his boots disinfected and will thoroughly wash his hands. These measures are intended to prevent the entry of any livestock diseases the team may encounter during deliveries to farms around the world prior to entering the United States.
“It would be a disaster for Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited, if my reindeer were to unintentionally bring in foot and mouth disease along with all the gifts,” explained Mr. Claus. “Why, something like that could put me out of business. That’s why we work all year to keep the reindeer healthy and take all possible precautions before and during our trip.”
Mr. Claus has also provided an advance list of what port personnel should expect upon their arrival. This includes a variety of food items, all of which come from approved locations and none of which pose a threat to U.S. animal or plant health.
“As we do every day, we work diligently to ensure the health of American agriculture. Mr. Claus and the reindeer can safely continue their journey across the country and around the world, spreading holiday cheer as they go,” said Secretary Perdue.