Just days after a very disturbing horse carriage accident grabbed headlines in New York City, news broke that a NYC carriage driver allegedly altered a hoof brand on his unhealthy 22-year-old draft horse -- misidentifying him as a healthier horse nearly half its age. The details of the case were obtained a Freedom of Information request filed by the Associated Press, which says:
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.
According to officials, a city vet noticed in January that though the horse had Carsen's ID number on his hoof, his "physical characteristics and medical condition was that of the older horse." Even worse, Caesar, the older horse, suffered from a condition called "heaves," which is similar to asthma.
Luo denies the allegations. But when pressed for veterinary documents, Luo quickly shipped the horse to Pennsylvania and sold him, saying that he couldn't afford to have the horse sitting idle.
"I did not switch the horses. It's just very confusing because they look alike," he said.
This is far from the first allegation for Luo, AP reports:
Luo's regulatory problems date to September, when he was cited for working at least two horses without active licenses. He also was accused of working Ceasar for nine days in July when the horse was supposedly in Pennsylvania. City regulations give the horses five weeks of pasture time each year. Also in September, the Department of Consumer Affairs cited Luo for false advertising, overcharging customers and operating a carriage for more hours than allowed. Luo's company, the Manhattan Carriage Co., agreed in January to pay a fine and restitution. In an unrelated incident, a horse Luo was driving in September bolted on 8th Avenue and hit a car. It suffered minor injuries.
The allegations come as pressure is mounting against the horse carriage industry in NYC, which animal advocates maintain is cruel and could easily be replaced by vintage electric cars. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that a ban would go into effect by the end of this year.