Thursday, November 3, 2011

Remembering Laika

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.

Those are the words of scientist Oleg Gazenko, who worked on the Sputtnik 2 mission which sent Laika into outerspace.

Laika was a small mixed breed found on the streets of Moscow. Chosen to go into space for her temperment, size, and heartiness, the mission never planned to bring her back to earth. On this day in 1957, Laika was launched into space as part of an experiment. Scientists wanted to determine if we could survive outside of the earth's atmosphere.

Conflicting reports exist about her death. Some say that she died several hours after takeoff due to heat exhaustion, other reports state cause of death as oxygen starvation, and yet another says cause of death was days later due to eating poisonous food.

Over fifty years later, we haven't learned much. Companies are still using animal testing. Most companies openly admit that the tests are not 100% accurate. No animal serves as a reasonable stand in for humans. Yet, inhumane testing continues. Hopefully, someday in the near future, we'll find a better way to do testing. Even better, maybe we won't have to do testing at all.

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