There's a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to this exact topic, so I'm just going to quote the first instance, and the rest is then available on the page:
The first animals sent into space were fruit flies aboard a
U.S.-launched V-2 rocket on February 20, 1947. The purpose
of the experiment was to explore the effects of radiation exposure at
high altitudes. The rocket reached 68 miles (109 km) in 3 minutes and
10 seconds, past both the U.S. 50-mile and the international 100 km
definitions of the edge of space. The Blossom capsule was ejected and
successfully deployed its parachute. The fruit flies were recovered
alive. Other V2 missions carried biological samples, including moss.
And on the same page regarding first animals that were in orbit:
On November 3, 1957, the second-ever orbiting spacecraft carried the
first animal into orbit, the dog Laika, launched aboard the Soviet
Sputnik 2 spacecraft (nicknamed 'Muttnik' in the West). Laika died
during the flight, as was intended because the technology to return
from orbit had not yet been developed. At least 10 other dogs were
launched into orbit and numerous others on sub-orbital flights before
the historic date of April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the
first human in space.
You mention in your question "contradicting answers", but you don't really explain what you found contradicting about them, or where. One possible source of confusion that comes to mind is different definitions of "outer space" and at what altitude above the sea-level we actually count something as being "in space", but it's nowadays generally considered at 100 km (62 mi), i.e. the Kármán line which is also used in the Outer Space Treaty. I can't think of other sources of confusion though, so please clarify what you meant in your question, if that's not it.