The daily lives of many rural workers were intertwined with animals: those they kept, those in the wild, and those they were employed to work with and care for. And yet despite the importance of this connection, work in rural history has tended, with some notable exceptions, to conceive of animals as fleshy capital, game, or pest. In part this is because the archive does not tend to describe the relationships between workers and animals. This paper contends, however, that the archive of animal maiming offers important detail for beginning to understand the connection. While animal maiming was necessarily rooted in violence, with its various forms essentially involving the mutilation and violation of animals, nonetheless episodes of animal maiming can tell us much about the politics of giving care to animals. Examining episodes of animal maiming also allows us to understand how the non-human helped to constitute the relationships between humans, especially the uneven bond between employer and worker, as well as the complex, and often contradictory, attitudes of rural workers to animals.