SAFE is campaigning against a new and very odd form of “entertainment” in pubs. Catcha Cray machines are just like arcade grab machines, with the key difference being that rather than the prize being a non-sentient soft toy, the prize is instead a living and feeling crayfish. SAFE’s campaign officer Mandy Carter says:
Like the soft toy machines, the catching process is primitive and obviously designed to fail, therefore adding to the stress and torment these animals will endure.
The catching and handling process can result in limbs being torn off or damaged. A caught crayfish amongst a crowd of drunken revellers is also of serious concern as they are at great risk of abuse.
SAFE have discovered a number of Auckland bars with Catcha Cray machines, and so far four have given into pressure from consumers and removed them. The Kingslander, the Naval & Family Pub, Globe Bar, and Thoroughbred Sports Bar removed the machines after numerous complaints, but the Backyard Bar, the Albion, and Happy Days seem quite happy to continue causing needless cruelty.
While the Catcha Cray manufacturers initially boasted that the SPCA were fine with the machines (due to one moron inspector, Tod Neal), the SPCA have now confirmed their absolute opposition with Chief Inspector Charles Cadwaller telling One News: “I can’t believe that it’s happening, it’s utterly abhorrent. Why on earth would anybody want to do that?”
They’re a living feeling animal, they’re tormented, this thing comes down and grabs them. It’s designed of course that you don’t win them easily, so it’ll be picked up and dropped, picked up and dropped, the limbs will go, it will be in torment. It’s disgusting.
There are questions around the legality of the game, with the SPCA unsure about the law in the absence of a Code of Welfare covering the treatment of crustaceans.
I think the SPCA or MAF should take a prosecution against one of the bars using the machines. Section 14(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 states that:
A person commits an offence who, being the owner of, or a person in charge of, an animal, without reasonable excuse,â€”
(b): sells, attempts to sell, or offers for sale, otherwise than for the express purpose of being killed, the animal when it is suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.
Codes of Welfare are simply minimum standards created as regulations under the Animal Welfare Act for specific practices. Many cruel and illegal practices are not covered by a Code of Welfare, and while a Code can provide a defense under the Act, it is not necessary for a Code to be in place to successfully prosecute a case. A prosecution would allow the judiciary to make a ruling as to the current legality of the game.
In the alternative, Minister of Agriculture David Carter could instruct the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to draft a Code of Welfare for the handling and killing of crustaceans. This too would make the law clear and hopefully get rid of a such a stupidly unnecessary and cruel form of “entertainment”.
[lprent: This was published on sunday. However I’m annoyed enough with the idiots who think that this is ‘fun’ to push it into a weekday for wider attention. ]