10 Animals Who Don’t Get Labor Day Off

As the summer comes to an end, millions of Americans will be celebrating a long Labor Day weekend. While many will be out grilling or sneaking in one last little vacation before fall arrives, countless animals will be doing anything but relaxing and having fun.

Whether they’re used for experimentation, food, clothing, or entertainment, billions of animals all over the world endure pain and abuse every single day of their lives. If you’re lucky enough to have the day off to unwind, spend a moment taking action for these animals who will be worked—some to death—regardless of the holiday:

1. Horses Forced to Pull Carriages

Horses who pull carriages on Labor Day will be forced to walk on hard pavement all day long. They will breathe in exhaust fumes and may not be given adequate food or water. At the end of a long day, they’ll be crammed into a tiny stall until they’re dragged out the next morning to start all over again.

Take Rapid Action for Horses

2. Sheep Tormented for Their Wool

Sheep used for wool will be beaten, stomped on, and mutilated. Gut-churning PETA video exposés from all over the world reveal that life is hell for lambs and sheep exploited for their wool, even on “sustainable” farms. Sheep shearers in Australia punched animals in the face and beat them in the head with sharp metal clippers and even a hammer. An eyewitness saw workers in Argentina pick up gentle lambs and—while they were fully conscious—tie their legs together, plunge knives into their throats, and saw through their flesh. Sheep also suffer for wool in the U.S., where PETA has documented abuse at 14 ranches across Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

Wool 5 EDIT

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3. Orcas and Other Dolphins Held in Captivity

Orcas held captive at marine parks will perform meaningless tricks in front of crowds of screaming people in order to get food. They’ll swim in endless circles in a tank that is, to them, the size of a bathtub. The reverberations from their sonar will bounce off the walls of the tanks, adding to their torment.

Take Action for Orcas Like Lolita

4. Egg-Laying Hens

Hens used by the egg industry will spend their day crammed into wire “battery cages” about the size of a file drawer with up to nine other hens. Because they’re packed so closely together, they’ll have to urinate and defecate on each other.

Chickens in battery cages

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5. Tigers in Circuses

Circus trainers will haul big cats around in cramped travel crates and force them to perform confusing and likely painful tricks under the threat of punishment. For animal-abusing businesses like Jordan World Circus and Bruno Blaszak’s Royal Bengal Tigers, big cats are trained through punishment and food deprivation. In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Jordan World Circus’ big-cat exhibitor Adam Burck for storing four tigers in travel cages as though they were equipment for at least 15 months. The inspector found the animals confined to the cramped enclosures inside a stiflingly hot barn that was crawling with maggots and had a rancid odor. Circus trainer Bruno Blaszak has received at least seven citations concerning space requirements, including ones for keeping a tiger inside a cage in which he couldn’t stand up without hitting his head and for keeping tigers in transport cages for days at a time.

Adult tigers are solitary animals, but circuses ignore this fact and make them live in unnatural and often incompatible groups, sometimes resulting in fights and injuries. Injuries can also occur during performances—such as when a tiger mauled Blaszak in front of 400 people during his show. If you and your family are looking for a thrilling circus act that uses only skilled, willing human performers, check out these performances instead.

Two tigers in cage forced to perform

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6. Primates in Labs

Primates will be tormented in laboratories. Every year in the U.S., more than 105,000 primates are imprisoned in laboratories, where they’re abused and killed in invasive, painful, and terrifying experiments. While it’s well known that nonhuman primates are sensitive, intelligent beings who share many important biological and psychological characteristics with humans, these very attributes unfortunately make them prime targets for experimenters, who treat them as if they were disposable pieces of laboratory equipment.

Push for Change for Primates

7. Cows on Dairy Farms

Cows on dairy farms will be hooked up to milking machines. They may be suffering from a painful udder inflammation called “mastitis,” which is common among cows raised for their milk, and it is one of dairy farms’ most frequently cited reasons for sending cows to slaughter. They may also be lame from being intensely confined and forced to stand amid their own waste.

Help Cows Exploited for Milk and Cheese

8. Angora Rabbits

Angora rabbits will have their fur violently ripped out of their sensitive skin as they scream in pain, a process that many endure every three months, leaving some in a state of severe shock. After two to five years, those who’ve survived are hung upside down and have their throats slit. Then their carcasses are sold.

Rabbits who have their fur cut or sheared also suffer: During the cutting process, their front and back legs are tightly tethered—a terrifying experience for any prey animal—and the sharp cutting tools inevitably wound many as they struggle desperately to escape.

While the vast majority of angora wool comes from China, where there are no penalties for the abuse of animals, angora products are assembled and distributed all over the world.

Angora collage

Take Rapid Action for Rabbits

9. Pigs in Gestation Crates

Most mother pigs in the U.S. spend their entire adult lives confined to cramped metal crates—and that won’t change on Labor Day. They never feel the affectionate nuzzle of a mate and are denied the opportunity to build a cozy, comfortable nest. Instead, they’re surrounded by cold metal bars and forced to lie on wet, feces-covered floors.

This intensive confinement, loneliness, and deprivation often causes mother pigs to go insane, which is manifested in repetitive behavior such as neurotically chewing on cage bars or compulsively pressing on their water bottles. After three or four years, their bodies are exhausted (even though the pigs are still quite young), and they’re shipped off to slaughter.

Pigs-in-crates

A Mother Pig in a Gestation Crate on a Factory Farm

Speak Up for Pigs

10. Dogs in Puppy Mills

Female dogs in puppy mills will likely spend their Labor Day either inside a crude, filthy cage or chained to a tree. They’ll suffer from painful medical conditions, such as ear infections, mange, and abscessed feet, for which they’ll won’t receive any veterinary care. They will either be pregnant with or nursing yet another litter of puppies, who will be taken away from them and sold.

dogs at a puppy mill

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More Ways to Help Animals This Labor Day

You can help the animals listed above and all others by not supporting the industries that abuse, exploit, and kill them. Start saving animals right now by taking our 3-Week Vegan Challenge, checking out our handy How to Wear Vegan guide, and browsing our Global Beauty Without Bunnies database of cruelty-free companies. And be sure to share this page with everyone you know!

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind