A Pet's Best Friend Dr. Neil Shaw, 40, Tampa

updated 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

A decade ago, veterinarian Neil Shaw learned that the owners of a seeing-eye dog named Slade could pay only a small portion of their dog's costly cancer surgery. Rather than allow the black Lab—who had served his disabled owners for years—to perish, Shaw performed the surgery for free. Then he had an idea: Why not save more pets whose owners couldn't pay? Since then, Shaw, owner of Florida Veterinary Specialists, has given away $1.2 million in services for 400 injured pets and 20,000 wild animals. After a car ran over Catherine Hartill's cat Louie last year, she cashed out her 401(k) and maxed out credit cards but still couldn't come up with the $24,000 for treatment without Shaw's help. "It saved Louie's life," she says. "It's the nicest thing anyone has done for me."

Know a hero? Send suggestions to HEROESAMONGUS@PEOPLEMAG.COM

From Our Partners