“Space Dog” Laika – The sad lessons not yet learned

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In praise of dear Laika; her true story is the only one that does her any justice. Happy tales of a silly dog in space are shameful lies. We as human beings need to face the truth and change our ways.

 As human beings…

We have the capacity to innovate, always, to find other ways to do things. We do not want our lives disregarded, abused, taken, and thrown away, so we should not do these things to other innocent, harmless, or helpless beings. No excuses justify it.

So why does animal experimentation continue since way back in the 4th century BCE?

I urge people to stop living in fear of the self-interested things “lab animal scientists” say, to vote against them, to boycott them and their cheerleading media such as newscasters who regularly tout the latest “breakthrough” thanks to “lab animals.” Those breakthroughs never quite work out in human beings, for the obvious reason that we are different from rats, etc., even from primates, as the TGN1412 case clearly shows which you can read about in Wikipedia and elsewhere.

I say we should all speak up in defense of animals, who should not be in those cages, and no longer be intimidated by threats of “your dog or your baby” as experimental fodder.

Human knowledge should never rely on abusing and taking lives.

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Which brings us to Laika

She was a sweet, trusting stray dog cruelly used and killed by supposed morally superior human beings back in 1957.

Sputnik 2, launched November 3, 1957, contained the first “living specimen” to be sent out into space: Laika, the world’s first “space dog”!

Her true story wasn’t told to the world until around 2002.

Laika’s real name was “Kudryavka” (Little Curly). Laika means “Barker,” the Russian name given to dogs of her breed. She was a small husky-terrier mix.

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Soviet Space Dogs

These were stray dogs gathered from the streets of Moscow to be strapped into centrifuges that simulated the extreme G-forces of take-off…quite terrifying to dogs or anyone without understanding.

Dogs were used because scientists felt they could endure long periods of inactivity better than other animals(?!) As part of their “training” they were confined in small boxes for 15-20 days at a time. Female dogs were chosen because they did not have to stand and lift a leg to urinate.

Laika’s capsule was not meant to be retrieved, so the sweet, trusting dog was never meant to survive. Her last meal (meant to be dispensed to her on the last day of the mission) was laced with poison so she would die “humanely” (as if poisoning is humane).

Laika’s fate turned out to be even worse

The USSR’s mission controllers eventually revealed that Liaka’s capsule overheated and she died within 5 to 7 hours of the launch.

She was the only dog Russian scientists knowingly sent into space to die. Important to understand: At the time there was no space craft that could sustain life during a long flight or survive a re-entry without burning up.

Now, what sort of being takes an innocent, unknowing, loving, trusting fellow being and forces her into hardcore training, and into a doomed space mission, using her as a political pawn for a government (Soviet Russia) obsessed with being better than another government (the USA)?

Certainly not a HUMAN being. We love animals, right?

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Human cruelty “won” the space race

Sputnik 2 had been conceived and built in just under four weeks at the urging of then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. On the day of Laika’s voyage, the New York Times printed: “the Soviet Union claimed a victory over the United States.”

The World Space Congress in Houston reported 45 years later that Laika died of fright shortly after take-off.

Laika’s spacecraft was no bigger than a washing machine. She was confined to a small cockpit, no choice, no escape, no mercy, abandoned by those she loved and trusted, to face an untimely painful death.

Russian authorities had previously circulated reports that Laika survived in orbit for four days and then died when the cabin overheated due to a battery malfunction.

In reality, medical sensors recorded that immediately after the launch, as her capsule reached speeds of nearly 18,000 miles per hour, her pulse rate increased to three times its normal level, presumably due to overheating, fear, and stress.

Possibly five to seven hours of overheating, terror, and stress, before finally succumbing to death.

And human beings did that to her.

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Happy-talk veiling the sad truth

The “happy” stories circulated about this tragedy tout it as some sort of first step out into space by mankind, and oh, isn’t it funny…a DOG…hahaha, aren’t we something?

It was not until 1998, after the collapse of the Soviet regime, that Oleg Gazenko, one of the scientists responsible for sending Laika into space, expressed deep regret for allowing her to die:

“Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it… We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.”

As if human ego and curiosity could ever justify such abuse of an innocent life if enough was learned!

When will people learn the most important human knowledge EVER?…that we are to be loving, civilized and peaceful, and deliberate animal abuse has absolutely no place in that…not ever.

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Homeless dog

Laika’s hard life and death

Laika endured a sad youth where she was mistreated by former owners and lived roaming the streets, hungry and pleading. She trusted the scientists who took her in implicitly, listened intently and was visibly happy when the dog handler said, “You can trust me.”

She was elated when one of the handlers, Yelena, called her a “good dog.” Her only desire in the world was to be loved by humans.

Sadly, one could see the absolute terror on her face as she was trapped in a space capsule by these same humans who “loved” her.

Would HUMAN beings, so determined to be seen as caring toward animals and each other, so driven to ensure their own comforts and peaceful, beautiful surroundings, do such a thing to an angel like Laika?

One of the scientists took her home with him before the launch so she could be a “normal” dog; she played with the scientist’s children, not knowing the fate she was about to meet.

Laika was a guileless creature who wanted nothing except approval from the very people who orchestrated her death. She died of FEAR. It was done to her deliberately, knowingly, by people she loved and trusted.

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Honor & Compassion – far too late

Near Moscow’s Military Institute is a statue of Laika standing proudly on top of a rocket. A monument to human shame, actually, though Laika deserves her proud stance, as she was an excellent dog.

The Bottom Line

How do we justify treating these obviously sensitive beings, full of love and character when given a chance to know us, as THINGS, to be taken and done with what we please, no matter how cruel?

To eat them, when we are omnivores and can live much better, more efficiently, cleaner, etc., without eating them at all?

We use animals for all sorts of cruel purposes, by choice not totally desperate need…and that is not proper human behavior.

No wonder we have never had a time of worldwide peace or where we were not violently abusing each other, especially the helpless, as that is what brutes and cowards do.

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Lab Animal Research and the Status Quo

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Photo: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/02/09/cancer-drug-erases-alzheimers-in-mice-but-what-about-men/

Why does animal research continue? It’s unwittingly funded by the public who are frightened via the industry and media into believing in it, ostracized for expressing disapproval of it. Let’s change!

I recently got an email request for donations from a well-known antivivisection (AV) organization that’s been around for decades, asking for “hope” for animals in laboratories. I assume many animal lovers got the same email.

But the animals need far more than hope after all these decades of AVs asking for “alternatives” for scientific fraud and (often severe) animal abuse. From that alternative seeking stance, the average person could logically deduce that human medicine absolutely requires someone to be commodified, cut up and experimented on, so it should be animals rather than people.

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When antivivisection organizations become too comfortable…

If all animal liberation supporters were to send AV organizations all of our money and live on the streets, animal experimentation would still go on. The animals urgently need traditional anti-vivisection activism to be REPLACED; then the “retired” animals in sanctuaries wouldn’t be replaced in labs to continue the abuses on new victims.

The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) has been cited by antivivisection organizations regarding improving the Animal Welfare Act among other issues. AALAS “supports educational outreach on the essential role of responsible laboratory animal care and use in science to advance human and animal health.” So it seems we are to accept that “lab animals” are essential to medical science?

The Animal Welfare Act wouldn’t be needed at all for animal-free research facilities. It could then possibly be called the CSPPA (Clinical Study Participant Protection Act). Such guidelines would in all probability have saved those many thousands of victims of the VIOXX disaster (et al), as those in charge wouldn’t have dared to ignore the human VIGOR study in giving preference to animal results, because there would have been NO misleading animal test results. See link below regarding Vioxx lawsuits and the VIGOR study.

Even the rat, frog, etc. simulations touted by AV organizations as “alternative” dissection tools cement the idea in people’s minds that “lab animals” are essential to science. But the simulations should be HUMAN if teaching human anatomy. After all, why should kids be learning rat or frog anatomy? (See example in link below.) For possible veterinary careers, dog, cat and horse simulations would be practical.

A near future free of suffering animals in lab cages…

Start making sense, that’s what we should ask of our fellow humans. I wish for great changes in AV this year, same as every year before this. All the standard excuses for traditional AV should be rejected and we should get to the root of the problems. There’s no time for more of the same old same old.

Our collective health and the animals depend on our rethinking this whole “lab animal” concept. After all, animal testing is literally a Dark Ages practice, begun when people did not know any better. The history of animal testing dates back to Greek writings from the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. We’ve learned a huge amount about the human body since then, from actually looking at and treating… the human body.

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