Rescued Bait Dog Receives National Honor

From dog fighting ring to show ring in less than one year
By Julia Lane, November 2012

Like many young Staffordshire Terrier mixes around the country, Vivian Peyton didn’t have the best chance of finding a loving home. She was used as a bait dog for a dog fighting ring before ending up at a Philadelphia shelter. Wounded, emaciated and understandably wary of people, Vivian was not considered adoptable.


Thanks to New Leash on Life, a nonprofit prison dog-training program, Vivian Peyton learned to trust, earned her Canine Good Citizen certification and was adopted by Michele Pich, a Veterinary Grief Counselor at PennVet. Together, they comfort grieving pet lovers and visit children at Ronald McDonald House.


Her extraordinary journey and service has not gone unnoticed. Vivian Peyton will be honored as a Purina Therapy Dog Ambassadors at the National Dog Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center on Saturday, November 17 and Sunday, November 18.


“Vivian Peyton's honor as Therapy Dog Ambassador at Purina's National Dog Show this year is such an amazing honor,” says proud owner Pich. “For such a sweet beautiful little girl that almost didn't make it out of the shelter alive to go on in a year's time to be part of New Leash on Life's prison-dog program, to have the honor of being a therapy dog through Penn Vet's VetPets program - putting smiles on sick children's faces, and to help grieving pet lovers - and now to be given this special title is incredible.


“I have loved her since the second I met her, and could see that she was destined for greatness,” adds Pich. “I just had no idea that the rest of the world would see it too. She is gentle yet rambunctious when she should be, she's goofy yet dainty. She has a loving demeanor and she just seems to know what people need to feel better. I feel so fortunate to be her mom and to be with her through this amazing privilege of being part of the Therapy Dog ambassador team.”


New Leash on Life USA is a new generation prison dog-training program that saves the lives of shelter dogs by training and socializing them to enhance their adoptability while helping inmates learn to train and care for dogs. With New Leash on Life USA, dogs live in the cells with their inmate trainers 24/7, making New Leash dogs highly desirable for adoption and ensuring the long-term success for both humans and canines. For more information on New Leash on Life USA visit


“We are incredibly proud of Vivian Peyton for showing the resiliency of animals and what can be accomplished with love and care,” said Marian V. Marchese, the founder of New Leash on Life. “She will always be New Leash on Life’s ambassador dog.”

Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.

Sponsored Content