Ken Howard’s love of animals -- dogs in particular -- grew from a near-death experience. Back in 2000, Ken was waiting on a kidney transplant, but that didn’t stop him from doing a photo shoot with PEOPLE on a hot June afternoon. After he returned home to Malibu, he told Linda he was tired and needed to lie down. She planned to leave him alone until Shadow, their mixed pit bull-Staffordshire terrier rescue, started growling for attention. Linda followed Shadow to their upstairs bathroom and found Ken face down on the floor. He was choking, but unconscious. Linda, a former stuntwoman, rushed to get help and soon after Ken got the kidney transplant he needed. Ken and Linda credited Shadow with saving his life that day. As his love of animals grew, Ken and Linda became more involved in the Onyx and Breezy Foundation.