Editor's note: There are dozens of newspapers across the state of Kentucky. Each Tuesday, this space will be dedicated to what one of those papers thinks about the issues facing their communities and this state.

At least 21 horses died after an apparent shooting spree occurred near the Floyd-Pike County line last week and over the weekend.

This act of violence is as despicable and senseless as they come. And right here in the Bluegrass, where horses should be treasured and cherished.

These beautiful animals were evidently hunted, according to authorities.

We won't make this editorial about hunting, as it can be a positive hobby -- and sometimes done for all the right reasons like providing food for a family -- for many in Appalachia. But horses aren't here to be hunted.

Only a psychopath would derive pleasure from ruthlessly killing off defenseless horses, one by one. It's a crime that should prompt the most severe sentence possible.

President Donald Trump signed a bill making animal cruelty a federal felony -- the PACT (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture) Act -- in November.

What would possess someone to commit this unacceptable outburst of violence?

"This is very inhumane and it's a very cruel act of somebody who just apparently had nothing else to do or whatever just to go back on a strip job and shoot down horses who were, one of them obviously was feeding, had grass in its mouth," Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt said. "It looked like a battlefield for just horses."

Some were young and some were pregnant.

Kentucky is the United States' leading producer of horses. The equine industry has been exceptionally beneficial, economically, throughout the commonwealth's existence.

Kentucky is most known for the Kentucky Derby, college basketball and perhaps bourbon and tobacco.

The gracefulness of horses encapsulates the beauty of Kentucky.

This inexcusable explosion of violence, again, should be accompanied by the most severe penalty that can be handed down.

-- The Daily Independent, Ashland

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