Peterson moved with his family to Birmingham at the age of eight. When he was 18 he joined the Marine Corps and served for four years. He joined the Birmingham Police Department in 1967 and completed a bachelor of science in sociology at the University of Alabama in 1971. After graduating he went into the industrial laundry business.
In 1977 Peterson opened a pre-washed blue jeans laundering plant in Opp. Later he won a competitive bid to supply laundering services to the State of Alabama and constructed a large facility in Tuscaloosa. After selling that business, he won a series of contracts to provide long-distance telephone services from U.S. military bases overseas. He sold those contracts when his wife, Kathy retired from BellSouth and together they founded the Pets America pet supply store chain in 1995.
Meanwhile the couple had become interested in raising llamas and had already become registered as livestock judges specializing in llamas. The herd at their Southland Llamas ranch now numbers around 40.
In 2010 Peterson campaigned for the Republican nomination for Agriculture Commissioner. His campaign commercials caused an instant sensation, featuring Peterson clad in western wear on horseback and carrying a rifle. The attention boosted his popularity in the primary as he went from a virtually unknown candidate to finishing third. He followed up with a similar ad in which he endorsed John McMillan over top vote-getter Dorman Grace. McMillan won the runoff with 52% of the vote.
- Dale Peterson campaign website