Bettijane Mackall's heart sank when she saw the dog, a pit bull terrier, tied outside a quonset hut near Honolulu.
"His ears had been cut in half," she recalls. "The chain was embedded in his neck. Flies were hovering around open wounds all over his body. That poor dog had died a thousand deaths."
Back at her hotel in Honolulu, Mackall, who is president of the Animal Protection Association of America in Fairfax County, couldn't forget what she had seen.
"I was miserable," she said. "I could only see the dog's eyes -- those terrified eyes."
Mackall, who has come to the aid of scores of dogs and cats -- as well as wolves, snakes, monkeys and even a lion -- decided she had to rescue the dog, an apparent veteran of the pit fights that are popular, although illegal, in Hawaii.
With her husband, Douglas, a Fairfax attorney in Honolulu for an American Bar Association convention, Mackall went back to the quonset hut.
The owner of the dog was not pleased. "He screamed, 'I'll do whatever I want!" she said. "He tried to kick me. I ran into the car and he tried to punch at my husband . . . . I told the man. 'I'll be back with a warrant.'"
But Mackall learned Hawaii has no laws concerning cruelty to animals.
Back in Virginia, she and the animal association had frequently invoked a state law that allows misdemeanor charges against "unfit" owners.
"I said, 'I'm going back to that place even if I'm arrested and put in jail, until something is done for that dog,'" she remembers.
Mackall decided if she couldn't seize the dog, she would try to buy it. A sympathetic policeman agreed to bargain with the owner for her. "I told him to start at $40 and go up to $200, if he had to."
Twenty minutes later the policeman came back, minus $40 but carrying the dog -- with the chain still embedded in his neck.
"It was one of the worst sights I have ever seen," says Mackall, "But with all those sores on him, he wagged his tail and put his muzzle on the dashboard."
Mackall took the dog to Hawaii's Animal Emergency Clinic, where she feared he would have to be put to sleep. But Akaika (Hawaiian for strong) lived up to his new name. He recovered and the Mackalls brought him home to Virginia.
Until a permanent home can be found for him, Akaika is staying with the Mackalls in Fairfax.
With Akaika lying at her feet and gazing up at her, Mackall says, "He has repaid me a thousand times with those eyes."