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The Lonesome Death of Laika The Astronaut Dog
Today’s date (November 7, 2015) marks the 58th anniversary of an important historical figure’s death. Laika, the space dog, literally went where humans could never go… against her will. Laika was a victim of institutionalized animal cruelty at the hands of Soviet Russia. Found on the streets of Moscow, she was “the only creature knowingly sent into space to die” and the first animal to die in orbit. Equipped with only a water dispenser and some food, scientists dressed her up in straitjacket-like spacesuit and blasted her into space on Sputnik 2. The Soviet government claimed that the plan was to poison her before her 6-day oxygen supply ran out. The USSR led the world to believe that they were concerned with animal welfare as they launched unsuspecting dogs into space, often depicting them as heroes in propaganda.
However, the truth behind Laika’s death are disturbing and far from humane. Soviet scientists exploited Laika’s obedience when they launched her into space on November 3, 1957. Ultimately, people devalued Laika’s life because she wasn’t born a human. Humans decided that her small stature and markedly calm temperament qualified her to be an astronaut.
To prepare her for space, scientists put her through a training program. Laika’s training “included standing still for long periods of time, wearing space suits, being placed in simulators that acted like a rocket during launch, riding in centrifuges that simulated the high acceleration of a rocket launch and being kept in progressively smaller cages to prepare her for the confines of the space module.” She complied with humans’ commands and was notably easy to work with.
The details surrounding Laika’s death weren’t revealed until 2002. Dr. Dimitri Malashenkov, a former scientist in Soviet Russia, confessed the truth at the World Space Congress. She died soon after a frightening, stressful launch. As her heart beat at thrice its speed, Laika spent her last minutes alone in space. She died from overheating just hours after being in orbit;the shoddy temperature control system failed to save her from heat exceeding 100-degree fahrenheit and overwhelming stress.
Dr. Malashenkov shared disturbing secrets regarding Laika’s treatment kept from the pubic. For instance, no one knew about “her food being in jelly form and that she was chained to prevent her turning around.” Scientists also forced Laika to remain in small confines for 15 to 20 days straight. Laika showed no lifesigns 5 to 7 hours after the blast-off.
Many individuals are remorseful about being involved in her involuntary expedition.
“Working with animals is a source of suffering for all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak,” said Oleg Gazenko, one of the head scientists who participated in Laika’s training and death. “The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.”
Silence is not consent. Animals cannot speak, so it is our job to speak up for them. But it is not our job to exploit an animal's trust to put them in dangerous situations. Laika’s space voyage was a traumatic experience that resulted in her cruel, unusual, and painful death. In 2010, the owners of a donkey forced the animal to parasail across the shore for the purpose of attracting tourists to their parasaling business. As a land creature, the donkey would have no interest in flying, so the owners' claims that the donkey didn't suffer hold no weight. The truth is that this donkey went through an incredibly stressful and frightening experience against its will for the sake of making humans richer. The same applies to dogs and all other land-dwelling animals. Even if an animal obeys your commands, they have no informed consent in what is a matter of life and death for them. Humanity, we must do our best to always act in the best interest of the creatures who reside on this planet with us.
Let this date always remind us to fight animal cruelty and treat non-human creatures with the respect they deserve. Their voicelessness is a reason to protect them, not victimize them.
#TheReal #GhiaVitale #LaikaComeHome #AnimalCruelty #Abuse #AnimalWelfare #Speciesism #AnimalsAreNotVictims
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