History of Medicine
Antivivisection as Sabotage
On November 3, 1957, the U.S.S.R. launched the satellite Sputnik II, carrying within it a small Russian dog, Laika. The first living being to orbit the Earth, she embodied multiple meanings on both sides of the Iron Curtain. For the Kremlin, her mission commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the "great October Socialist revolution," and she emerged as a canine hero of the Soviet Union. Gazing up at the night sky, many Americans saw the small dog as a terrifying declaration of Communist technological supremacy and American vulnerability.
Laika also revived the long raging debate over vivisection. Countless Americans bristled at Soviet inhumanity. As news of Laika’s death from overheating reached the West, American antivivisectionists capitalized on the "Muttnic Affair," turning popular anticommunism against researchers who had so successfully employed it against animal protectionists over the previous decade.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, medical researchers deftly exploited the new Cold War rhetoric and successfully marginalized animal protectionists as enemy agents of foreign masters.
(Los Angeles Times editorial, April 18, 1950)