History and Mission

Poverty’s Pets was established in 2006, under the direction of the Founder and Animal Advocate, Kate Sivolella, with a mission to address animals in low-income and underserved neighborhoods, with a particular focus on spay/neuter clinics. Since 2008, Poverty’s Pets has facilitated the adoption of over 700 animals and provides medical services to over 500 animals each year. We have created a foster home, known as the Columbus House, for any dogs that cross our paths. With a compassionate volunteer network, it is Poverty’s Pets goal to end animal cruelty, suffering, overpopulation and homelessness

Poverty's Pets is 501c3 non-profit.




Kate Sivolella—Founder & Executive Director—was born and raised in Montclaire New Jersey, but has called Phoenix her home for over 20 years. Graduating from Fortem University She is a licensed Realtor and Property Manager, in addition to founding Poverty’s Pets.


Her work prior to starting Poverty’s Pets often brought her to underserved communities in downtown Phoenix where she began noticing that many of the dogs in this area were neglected, abused, and greatly in need of care and services. Moved by the suffering, Kate was inspired to help and did so in starting Poverty’s Pets. Besides Kate’s love of rescuing pets, Kate loves Ice hockey, she’s an avid NY Giants fan, and enjoys listening to music. She also loves spending time with her family, which uniquely consists of two sets of twins!


Melissa Gogel—Chair of the Board-- Born and raised in Nashville, TN, Melissa graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS

in Marketing. She has worked for Visit Phoenix since February, 2000, and currently serves as Vice President of Marketing, tourism &

Communications. When she’s not cheering on her Vols during football season or snuggling with her dogs, Melissa is out and about

supporting local boutiques and restaurants (translation: shopping and eating). She’s often accompanied by a Poverty’s Pets pup,

giving them a special adventure and extra socialization. She and her husband Mike share their lives with two rescue dogs – Tanner

the Chihuahua (7) and Hannah the Pittie (5).  Hannah is a Poverty’s Pets alum who was saved, along with her four puppies, during

flyer distribution for a spay/neuter clinic. Melissa began volunteering for Poverty’s Pets in the summer

of 2014.

Kellye Pinkleton—Vice Chair of the Board—With experience in private, public, political and non-profit sectors, Kellye uses her passion, experience and knowledge of diverse populations and community organizations to bring about positive change, particularly to underserved communities.  With a degree in Criminal Justice and minors in Sociology and Political Science from Wilmington College in Ohio, Kellye has used her education and background to advocate for voter’s rights, lgbt and animal welfare, in addition to many other commendable initiatives.  From 2007 to 2011, Kellye served as a Director for the Ohio Secretary of State.  She currently serves as the Arizona State Director for The Humane Society of the United States and has been a volunteer and board member in various nonprofit organizations and is currently a member of the Wilmington College of Ohio President’s Advisory Council.



Rachel Southard; MBA, CSM—Board Member--Born and raised in small-town Minnesota, Rachel is a business development and

project management professional with a special place in her heart for health and fitness, but more importantly, for Poverty’s Pets

and its rescue and advocacy efforts.  In 2010, Rachel adopted the “untouchable dog” from Poverty’s Pets, Jojo (now named Lila). 

With patience, love and a lot of treats, Lila was able to build trust and has blossomed into a diva of a dog that shows love and

empathy towards all creatures (dogs, cats, squirrels and even pet rats) and people.  Because of her advocacy and networking,

Rachel has facilitated the adoption of many of the dogs at Poverty’s Pets and continues to volunteer and offer guidance for the

organization from California, where she and Lila enjoy the ocean air and continue their rescue work. 



Dana Teel---Secretary of the Board-- raised in Scottsdale/Phoenix since age six, Dana received her Associates Degree in Mortuary Science from the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in 1995. She has since worked in Phoenix and Atlanta as a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer with a focus on Restorative Arts. She currently attending college part time in pursuit of a degree within the healthcare industry. Dana has spent many years volunteering with animal rescues and shelters and eventually discovered Poverty’s Pets, who’s vision, passion and goals aligned with her own.  She has been fostering dogs for Poverty’s Pets for four years. Two of her fosters, Maggie Mae and Willy, have found a permanent home with her family which includes her daughter, Riley and her son, Jake, three cats and her husband, John, who has been a wonderful help and support caring for the many rescues that have passed through their home.



Doreen Gonzalez-Figueroa—Board Member—Born and raised in Massachusetts, Doreen never had pets growing up, but that didn’t stop her from fostering a love of animals.  Not understanding the impact of puppy mills on animal overpopulation and the cruelty associated with them, she “bought” a puggle ten years ago, but since adopting Poverty’s Pets rescue, “Red” six years ago, Doreen has become a rescue advocate with a special place in her heart for pitties due to their loyalty and affection.  Being bi-lingual, she helps Poverty’s Pets and other rescue organizations share the importance of spay/neuter, animal welfare and adoption.  Outside of her rescue work, Doreen works in the mortgage industry and loves spending time her her husband, son and watching UFC/MMA!      

Margaret LaBianca—Board Member--Trained as a lawyer at the University of Arizona, and now serving as a commissioner with the Maricopa County Superior Court, Margaret first engaged with Poverty’s Pets through fostering and adopting her family’s much- loved dogs, Posie and Jacque, and then by providing pro bono legal services.  Before moving to Arizona in 1995 for law school, Margaret received a bachelor’s degree from Simmons College in Boston and a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York City.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, she worked as a political reporter and news editor for a community newspaper in Columbia County, New York, as well as for a goat cheese farm where she was involved in animal care, cheese making and selling at the Union Square Greenmarket.  Margaret serves on the board because she appreciates its clarity of mission and the long-time leadership in animal advocacy that Poverty’s Pets has established.

Angie Padgitt, MBA/MPA  Board Member – spending most of her childhood in Tucson, Angie was naturally a Wildcat fan and  attended The University of Arizona for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Angie then moved to the San Francisco area for five years where she adopted her first pitbull, Emma, from the county shelter. She fell in love with bully breeds and began volunteering with BADRAP, San Francisco Bay Area, to help train shelter dogs to help make them more adoptable. Angie moved to the Phoenix area  in 2005 and adopted her first Poverty’s Pets rescue in 2007, LolaBug. About 1 ½ years later, she fostered a Poverty’s Pets rescue and became a foster failure when she adopted LexiLooWhoo. Angie’s husband and sons help to support Poverty’s Pets as well. They are an animal-loving family!