This may be hard for you to believe, but people like to make fun of me.

No, it's not just because I write columns from time to time taking aim at political hypocrisy.

The jesting isn't just due to the fact that I'm a journalist, and we're considered by some to be soulless mudslingers who cherish dirty laundry and bad news.

The criticisms aren't even just related to my lack of using a comb more than once or twice a month.

More than politics, profession or hygiene, I receive criticism for being too soft when it comes to animals. I gave up eating meat aside from fish (which I try to limit my consumption of to once a week) about a decade ago, and while the change wasn't that difficult for me, it seems to be a real pot-stirrer when I bring it up in certain company.

Most who have made similar changes can also attest to the jabs. Some are playful, but some people get downright disagreeable when you tell them you're going to have a salad instead of a hamburger.

I didn't give up consuming meat because I didn't like the taste. I made the move because I don't think it's conscionable for me to eat it given how those animals are widely treated.

Before I get a dozen calls from local farmers tomorrow, let me clarify. Most small and family-owned farms treat their animals better than a lot of humans. But unfortunately in this day of mass production, factory farms are providing a bulk of our food and dairy, and many of them don't adhere to the same humane practices that traditional farmers live by. If you don't believe me, there's ample evidence available that proves the cruelty that happens daily.

But most all of us love our dogs and cats. I have a pair of cats myself -- Daisy Lane and Matilda -- and while I can't coax them into getting jobs to help with the rent, I would be lost without them. Actually, I'd probably get more rest because I wouldn't be awakened at 2 a.m. to them demanding food or attention, but you get my drift. They're part of the family.

A few weeks back, we reported on a terrible case of a Barren County man accused of pouring acid on a dog. The dog had to be euthanized because his injuries were so bad.

People who commented on our Facebook page were vehement in their calls for justice, and I agree with their suggestions that we need tougher laws when it comes to animal cruelty.

Kentucky was again ranked as the worst state in the country for animal protection laws in a study released in January by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. It marked the 12th year in a row that Kentucky received this dubious distinction from the organization.

General cruelty to an animal is just a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky. An animal has to be abused to the point of death or severe injury for the crime to be considered a felony. Speaking of felonies, we didn't even make it a felony to possesses dogs for fighting purposes a felony until 2016, almost a decade after former NFL quarterback Mike Vick was jailed for such charges in a case that received major media attention.

During his unsuccessful Senate run in 2014, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin attended a rally where he reportedly supported the legalization of cockfighting.

We don't have a good track record when it comes to protecting animals, and I know many people couldn't care less, but we should. It shows a lack of compassion and character when we abuse living beings for entertainment, money or food.

It's time for some changes in this state. We need tighter laws and tougher punishments when people abuse and kill animals.

I started this column by referencing the meat industry because it's important to remember that not only cats and dogs have feelings. I'm not suggesting we should all go vegan, but we should all be more aware of where our food is coming from. Buy meat from local farmers. Inquire about the conditions those animals live in before they are slaughtered. And if you think it's funny or OK to abuse animals, or to see cows kicked and beaten while living in a cage, or for chickens to spend their lives in a space the size of a piece of notebook paper, then spend some time praying that reincarnation doesn't exist.

Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at Follow him on Twitter @Dsuddeathgdt.

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