There are three things I acknowledge, and accept that they exist, but which I have never been able, for the life of me, to get my head around. They have always remained far beyond my understanding, no matter how much I ponder them or how old I get.

The first is child abuse, paedophilia and cruelty to domestic animals; the second is male homosexuality; and the third is vegetarianism.

I have written often about child abuse and paedophilia, have touched on male homosexuality but find it expedient these days simply to ignore such an infinitesimal minority, and every time I encounter a vegan or vegetarian (I'm told there's a difference) I simply shake my head in wonder.

That leaves cruelty to domestic animals, examples of which laid before us in the media from time to time, are enough to turn my stomach.

The latest, of course, is the shooting of 33 dogs and puppies on a property near Wellsford. But I wonder about a situation in which a man who lives in an old truck keeps more than 30 dogs and pups on one property and have decided to suspend judgment until more facts are known.

The cruelties which sicken me are those perpetrated, invariably by males, which torture defenceless domestic animals, inflicting on them fathomless fear and excruciating agony.

And those who leave animals for which they are responsible without sufficient food or water until they are but skin and bone.

Sadly, examples of such cruelty are far too frequent. One of the most shocking in recent memory was the 19-year-old Dunedin "man" who took nearly an hour to kill a harmless Jack Russell terrier.

Jeffrey Hurring tried to strangle the dog using a chain and when the dog was still alive 30 minutes later, poured petrol down its throat, put a pillow case in its mouth and finally hit it with a spade. And all he got was a year's jail.

Then there are dogs being dragged behind cars or left unfed and chained for so long that the chains grow into their flesh; dogs, horses, cattle and sheep left starving in paddocks, sacks of kittens being thrown in rivers or lakes - the list of mindless cruelty goes on and on.

It has always astounded me that, as with surf lifesaving and the ambulance service, no state funding is available to animal protection agencies. In a country that depends so heavily on animals, this is outrageous.

So now that Tauranga MP Simon Bridges' member's bill has been accepted by the Government it is to be hoped that it doesn't just increase the maximum penalty for wilful abuse of animals from three years' jail to five.

The bill should also provide for annual government subsidies or grants to animal welfare organisations, and make available to them the services of Crown prosecutors. That the SPCA has to depend on the charity of the legal profession to prosecute cases of torture, torment or neglect is intolerable.

The bill should also make clear to the judiciary that Parliament's intention is that the severity of the sentence should always reflect the nature of the sadism involved.

Those who perpetrate atrocities against defenceless animals are, simply by their actions, unquestionably psychopaths. They need not only to be locked up but to receive extensive psychiatric treatment, too.

I can no more understand why anyone would torture and slaughter a Jack Russell terrier that I can understand anyone doing so to a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, an exceptional example of which has been part of our family for the past five years.

Almost all my life there has been a cat in the house. I have always liked cats. They are independent creatures, content to look after themselves and as long as you feed them they will do their own thing.

The incumbent, a chocolate and cream long-haired Birman, has been with us for nearly 12 years. She is beginning to show her age but remains mistress of the household, particularly where the dog is concerned.

Archie - for, being of royal Scottish descent, that is his name - learned early not to mess with Madam - and a right little madam she was, too - and only later discovered she liked to tear round the house playing hide and seek, but only ever on her terms.

For years I resisted my wife's entreaties to get a dog, fearing the physical and emotional commitment it would entail. But I gave in and all I can say after five years is that the experience has been hugely enriching.

How marvellous it is to have pets in the house, little creatures which never talk back or argue with you and which are enormously loyal, trusting, guileless and affectionate.

As I said at the start, how anyone could deliberately bring harm to such inestimable companions is far beyond my comprehension.