New York City’s Health Department has accused a carriage driver of trying to deceive regulators by trying to pass off a 22-year-old carriage horse with breathing difficulties as a much younger animal in good health.
Carriage driver Frank Luo was accused of swapping the identification numbers for two different horses in an attempt to sneak past regulators. The ID numbers are tattooed into carriage horses’ hooves.
The city filed a March 6 administrative order again Luo, per the Associated Press, which first reported the alleged infraction Tuesday morning.
The carriage driver has been accused of switching the number associated with Ceasar, a 22-year-old horse with mild asthma that was supposedly resting on a country farm, with a number issued to Carsen, a 12-year-old carriage horse, the AP reported.
Questions began to come up in late January when a Health Department vet inspected Luo’s horse in its Manhattan stable. When suspicions arose about the true identity of the horse, the vet obtained records through a freedom of information request.
The vet’s suspicions ended up being right, the tattoo number on the horse’s hoof corresponded with the license issued to Carsen, but the animal the vet examined did indeed have “physical characteristics and medical condition… of the older horse.”
“I did not switch the horses. It’s just very confusing because they look alike,” Luo told AP.
To prove his case, Luo had the Pennsylvania farmer who was supposed to be hosting Caesar write a handwritten note to the city saying the horse had been on his farm since July.
But the city wasn’t happy enough with a note and asked the farmer to provide a veterinarian evaluation of the horse’s medical condition and age.
Less than a week later, according to the AP, Luo’s legal counsel told the city that the horse had been sold to the farmer on February 11.
The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs had the answer of the horse’s identity, however that didn’t stop them from opening a probe into Luo’s actions.
“I was shocked to hear of the accusations against Frank Luo. The Teamsters and New York carriages drivers are professionals who put the welfare of horses first,” said Demos Demopoulos, secretary-treasurer of Local 553.
“The Teamsters fought for the strong regulations we have in place, to protect the horses in our industry. What we saw today is that the system worked,” said Demopoulos.
Luo has a less than perfect track record with regulators, records show.
He was involved in an incident in Sept. 2013, when one of his horses panicked on the street, resulting in a carriage tipping over. No one was hurt in the incident.
He was also cited by the city for false advertising, overcharging customers and operating a carriage outside of regulated hours.