As the debate rages over whether carriage horses should continue to be a part of life in New York City, the AP reports that a carriage horse driver may have tried to fool city officials into believing an asthmatic 22-year-old horse was only 12 years old and healthy.
According to the AP, "Frank Luo branded the wrong hoof identification number on an aging horse named Ceasar, who was supposed to be resting on a Pennsylvania farm, so he could work under a license issued to a 12-year-old horse named Carsen, city health officials said in an administrative order last month."
The AP FOILed the information and found this: "In the written order, officials said a city vet noticed that the horse had Carsen's ID number on its hoof, but its 'physical characteristics and medical condition was that of the older horse.' Ceasar had a mild, chronic condition called 'heaves,' which is similar to asthma, city officials said."
However, Luo insists the vet got mixed up, telling reporters, "I did not switch the horses. It's just very confusing because they look alike." According to the AP, Luo told the city that the young horse was Carsen and had a note from a farmer saying Ceasar was on his farm, but after the city asked for more proof, Luo sold the horse (allegedly because he couldn't have the horse not working).
The Department of Consumer Affairs is still investigating. Meanwhile, Teamsters Local 553's Demos Demopoulos told the Daily News, "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. 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."
Luo is no stranger to issues with carriage horses—one of his horses got spooked last September, knocking a carriage in traffic. The AP adds that he's been "cited for working at least two horses without active licenses" and "accused of working Ceasar for nine days in July when the horse was supposedly in Pennsylvania."