A dog discovered swimming at sea more than 220 km from the shore in the Gulf of Thailand has been rescued and returned to land this week. The dog, nicknamed “Boonrod” (Thai: บุญรอด), which name means “the saved one” or simply “survivor,” combining boon and rod (merit and survive) was spotted by oil rig workers at sea last Friday. The word boon in Thai comes from the Pali term punna or punya, which refers to the merit gained by one’s moral deeds in Buddhism.
The dog swam to their oil platform and clung to the metal bars supporting the structure, silently waiting for help, according to Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production worker, Vitisak Payalaw. Mr. Payalaw documented the rescue and recovery of Boonrod on his Facebook page, which has been spread by news organizations around the world.
When the oil platform crew discovered Boonrod in the water, they lowered a rope and secured it around the dog’s neck to safely haul it up. Mr. Payalaw said they believed that the dog might have fallen off a fishing trawler. (South China Morning Post)
In the first photos Payalaw posted, the dog looks exhausted—”especially on his eyes”—and despondent. Workers provided him with water and pieces of meat on the deck of the rig, and they set up a kennel for him indoors. (NPR)
After returning to land on Monday at the southern port of Songkhla, the dog was handed over to receive veterinary care by the organization Watchdog Thailand, who declared him to be in good shape. Watchdog Thailand further documented his recovery, including a bath, on their Facebook page.
Mr. Payalaw’s post documenting Boonrod’s rescue and recovery has over 6000 comments, mostly in Thai. However, praise for Mr. Payalaw and and his co-workers has poured in from around the world. One commenter on his Facebook page writes, “I just read this story on one of Polish web site. Guys you are heros!” Another added, “this was also on the Dutch news.” (Facebook)
Thailand, an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, passed its first animal welfare law in 2014 to combat animal cruelty and mistreatment. According to The Straits Times, animal welfare activists worry that in Thai culture there is too little understanding of what consitutes proper treatment of animals.
“It is confusing, when this is a Buddhist country,” animal activist Roger Lohanan said in 2016, “We are a truly generous people, but just like many Asian countries, we have our own ethical concept of animal welfare. We see animals as a living possession or an object which deserves only what we want to give them. And we think punishing animals is normal.” (The Straits Times)
Whether Boonrod slipped off a boat or wound up at sea under other circumstances, his streak of good luck seems set to continue. Mr. Payalaw says he will be working on the oil rig until the end of April, but when he gets back to shore, he would like to adopt the dog. (National Public Radio)
Meet Boon Rod, the survivor dog rescued by oil rig workers 220km off Thailand’s coast (South China Morning Post)
Dog Saved By Workers On Oil Rig, 135 Miles Off Thai Coast (National Public Radio)
Dog is rescued from the Gulf of Thailand (Vitisak Payalaw on Facebook)
Thailand introduces new laws to tackle animal cruelty (The Straits Times)
Recovery of Boonrod (Watchdog Thailand on Facebook)