Actor Matthew Mcconaughey gave up his Labor Day celebrations on Monday (05SEP05) to save 70 pets left stranded in Slidell, Louisiana, by Hurricane Katrina.

The SAHARA star flew into the disaster zone surrounding a hospital where a stranded doctor had promised to take care of evacuees' dogs, cats and hamsters until they were rescued.

A day before McConaughey's mercy mission, another helicopter trying to rescue the animals and their guardian, who had spent a week living with the strays, crashed outside the hospital.

The actor helped to make sure the 50 dogs, 18 cats and two hamsters were ferried to safety on rescue boats, admitting he was stunned by the heroics of the doctor who stayed behind to look after them.

He says, "He said, 'I will not leave until the dogs are safe.'"