Of all the atrocities of the Soviet Union, one in particular sums the rest of them up: Laika. Laika was a mixed-breed Russian hunting dog, whom the Americans dubbed “Muttnik.” Launching her on Sputnik 2, the Soviets shocked the world. Their engineers proudly announced that Laika would have all the comforts of home for a week before she was peacefully put to sleep in space. (In 2002, we learned otherwise.) When another pair of dogs was sent up in 1960, they were brought back safely. At a dinner between the Kennedys and the Kruschevs, Jackie Kennedy asked about the welfare of the dogs. Nikita Kruschev proudly declared that one of the dogs had puppies, and a few weeks later a puppy showed up at the White House with a little Russian passport. (The FBI dutifully checked him for bugs…not fleas.) I’m not going to specifically comment on the morality of sending dogs (USSR) or chimps (USA) to space, but generally I think a people can be judged on how they treat their animals. Ellen White put it a bit stronger: “He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant. A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellow men or to the brute creation, is satanic….A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God’s creatures.” Let us be faithful to our Edenic call to be faithful friends to our fellow creatures.

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