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Carriage-driver accused of switching horses

Mayor Bill de Blasio favors a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio favors a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City.
Photo by Spencer Platt

An investigation by New York City Health officials over the (alleged) attempt of carriage driver Frank Luo switch identities of two horses has created new heat in the ongoing fight to ban carriage horses in Manhattan. According to a report by the Associated Press, Luo, a resident of Staten Island, was accused in March of altering ID numbers tattooed on the hooves of a 22-year old horse named Ceasar in order to pass him off as Carson, a healthy 12-year old. Luo, has vehemently deniedthe charge, contending that a “city veterinarian conducting an inspection confused the two animals because they are the same color and breed.” He also claims that he sold Ceasar to a Pennsylvania farmer in February, and that the horse, which suffers from asthma, has been resting there for months. Luo, however, is also accused of having Ceasar pulling a carriage in the city for 9 days last July, when the horse was supposed to be resting at that same farm. Officials have requested written proof from a veterinarian there documenting claims that the horse was actually in Pennsylvania during the time in question.

This is not the first time Frank Luo has been in trouble with New York City official, who have accused him of false advertising, overcharging customers and operating a carriage during non-regulated hours. He was also cited for “working at least two horses without proper licensing” in September 2013, after one of the animals panicked on the street, flipping its carriage over. Luckily, no one (including the horse) was hurt in the accident.

In the meantime, both Dan Matthews, senior vice president of PETA, which wants carriage-horses banned from the streets of New York, and Demos Demopolous, secretary treasurer of Teamsters local 533, which represents the carriage drivers, went to City Hall yesterday to lobby council members to support their positions. While the teamsters oppose the ban, Demopolous did state that “if Luo is found guilty of any of the above accusations he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”