NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton has donated a service dog named Gumbo to K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that provides helper dogs for military veterans with brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Payton was among local notables helping to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit group during the New Orleans stop of the “Bark Business Tour,” led by author and animal activist Wendy Diamond.
The Times-Picayune reported that Diamond had introduced Payton and his Play It Forward Foundation to the program. In a news release, Payton said he viewed the effort as a way to give back to veterans and their families.
“I love being around these dogs, “Payton said. “We look forward to presenting this dog to a Louisiana warrior.”
Diamond, who served as grand marshal of the Barkus pet parade in 2010 and was chairwoman of the Katrina Pet Memorial, hopes to raise $150,000 for the service dog program during the national tour.
“We launched the Bark Business Breakfast Tour to support veterans,” Diamond said. “I just felt like I needed to make a difference and help, and I knew service dogs were the answer.”
A Department of Veterans Affairs report issued in 2013 noted a marked rise in suicide among veterans.
“Ninety-four percent of every dollar goes to the veterans and they’re 100 percent transparent, so if people support this cause they’ll know the veterans and the dogs their supporting,” Diamond said of the K9s for Warriors.
K9’s For Warriors, based near Jacksonville, Fla., was founded in 2011 by Shari Duval, wife of retired PGA Champions Tour golfer Bobby Duval.
The couple’s son did two tours in Iraq as a contractor for the Army, handling bomb dogs, according to the K9 website.
Duval founded the K9 program to help any service person who has served since Sept. 11, 2001. The men and women are matched with suitable dogs, most of which have been rescued from shelters.