If you haven’t quite gotten your fill of carriage horse-arguing, today’s your lucky day. Last week, the Associated Press reported that carriage driver Frank Luo is accused by the city’s health department of falsifying the brand on one of his horses. Today, in what promises to be an unpleasant situation on all sides, two animal rights groups, NYCLASS and PETA, will protest in front of the Clinton Park Stables on West 52nd Street, where the horse in question used to live.
Luo supposedly took a 22-year-old draft horse named Caesar and branded the number of a 12-year-old horse, Carsen, onto his hoof. Caesar suffered from heaves, a chronic lung disease, and was supposed to be resting on a Pennsylvania farm. City health officials accused Luo of misbranding Ceasar so he could continue to work him. But Luo told the Associated Press that the whole thing was a mistake on the vet’s part, saying, “I did not switch the horses. It’s just very confusing because they look alike.”
Luo submitted paperwork to prove that the horse the vet examined really was Carsen, including, the AP reports, a handwritten note from the Pennsylvania farmer where Ceasar was supposedly taking his sabbatical. The city asked for more documentation and another veterinary exam. Five days later, Luo’s lawyer said the driver had sold the horse.
The AP also found that the same driver has previously been accused of overcharging customers and working longer hours than the law allows. He was cited by the Department of Consumer Affairs in September and his parent company, Manhattan Carriage Co., paid a fine. In September, he was also in a minor accident, when a horse he was driving bolted and hit a car on 8th Avenue.
The Department of Consumer Affairs is still investigating Luo’s actions. Meanwhile, PETA and NYCLASS, the two main animal rights groups pushing for a carriage horse ban, will protest outside the Clinton Park Stables at 1:00 on Friday afternoon, May 2.
“Falsifying records to force an old, asthma-stricken horse to work shows the drivers have no regard for the law and no common decency,” PETA vice president Dan Mathews is quoted as saying in a press release. “This is yet another example of why Mayor de Blasio is right about ending this shady business.”
PETA and NYCLASS are demanding to know where Ceasar is, although a Daily News story indicated that he was sold to the same Pennsylvania farmer where he was supposed to be on vacation.
Carriage driver and spokesperson Christina Hansen is unimpressed with the planned protest, and says it does more harm than good where the horses are concerned.
“The only audience that NYCLASS will have are the horses left at home on their day off tomorrow, or waiting for their night shift,” she tells the Voice. “It’s hypocritical for people who proclaim to care so much about the horses’ welfare to go out of their way to disrupt the routines of those horses, either by screaming and waving signs, or by ham-fisted attempts at intimidation designed to distract the industry from our primary duty: the care and well-being of our horses.”