how do I say “no thanks” to a GoFundMe organized on my behalf?

A reader writes:

I know you’ve answered lots of questions about declining requests to donate money in the workplace, but I’m in a slightly different predicament. One of my coworkers graciously started a fundraising campaign on my behalf, and I don’t want the money.

About 10 days ago, my two-year-old dog got extremely sick out of the blue and required two emergency surgeries that cost $5,000. The last week and a half has been extremely difficult, between the stress of not knowing if she’ll survive, to providing her round-the-clock care. She’s recovering well but may require additional surgery. If that’s the case, I’ll likely put her down because, as much as I love her and struggle to think of her not being in my life, I don’t have that kind of money and don’t know if I want to put her through more of this.

Unfortunately, all this has spilled over into my work life because she fell ill during a video conference, and I’ve had to cancel several work trips to stay home and care for her. Coworkers have been very kind about checking in on us, and one knows that my dog might not pull through. This morning, I woke up to an email from an online fundraising site saying a campaign had been started on my behalf, and asking me if I’d like to accept or decline the offer. Almost $2,000 has already been raised by coworkers, contractors, and clients! I am incredibly grateful and touched by this. Never would I have thought anyone would have cared so much to try to raise money for me, and it means so much to me that I work with wonderful people like this (it’s no surprise, but I’m still wildly thankful).

The thing is, I don’t really need the money. Yes, $5,000 was a huge hit, but I’m fortunate in that I had that money in savings. I’d planned to use it on non-emergency home repairs this year, but those things can wait. I don’t see how I can accept money knowing that I was able to pay this bill without going into debt. Additionally, while I’m cutting back to save a little money here and there, I have a huge vacation planned next month that I’m still able to take. I think accepting money while splurging would be wrong, not to mention the optics.

I’m thinking of declining, and contacting the organizer to thank her profusely, tell her what it means to me, and explain why I don’t feel right accepting the money. Then I thought of making a digital thank-you card featuring my dog to email to all the people who put their names with their donations. I thought I could include a brief line about being fortunate in that I could pay this bill, and encouraging donors to either put their donations away for a rainy day, or donate to a local shelter. But, I’m so worried about offending my colleagues and all those who’ve so thoughtfully donated. Do you think declining the donations in this way is appropriate? What would you do?

I’m sorry about your dog! I hope she’s okay.

There is sometimes a weird thing with GoFundMe culture where people assume someone will need help with something when in fact they’ve got it covered. More broadly, people sometimes tend to assume that whatever their financial situation is, others who seem like them probably have similar finances. You see this in both directions — like with people who are financially comfortable assuming that others can afford the same things they can, and also with situations like yours, where people really kindly offer help without checking to see if it’s needed.

In any case, you have lovely colleagues! And it’s absolutely okay to say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me like this. I don’t feel right accepting the money because fortunately I’m able to cover this bill, but I’m so moved and grateful that people were willing to help.” And I love your idea of the digital thank-you card with the photos of your dog.

Kind people aren’t going to be offended by this — they’re going to appreciate your integrity and be glad you’re covered. It’s true that it’s possible that the person who organized the GoFundMe without checking with you might be a little embarrassed — but assuming she’s a generally reasonable person, it won’t be like “how dare Jane reject my help!” It’ll just be “whoops, I should have checked.” And you can help soften it by making a point of thanking her directly for her instinct to help.

{ 290 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Note: The letter writer is not seeking input on her (no doubt very difficult and painful) treatment decisions for her dog. Please confine your advice to the question being asked.

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      Thank you for removing those comments. They were unnecessarily cruel to the letter writer.

      1. Letter Writer Here :)*

        Thanks everyone for being so kind, and to Alison for publishing my question and providing such a thoughtful answer! As many have acknowledged, this is an incredibly tough decision for me and money is really a small piece of the decision making process. To be fair to all commenters, I think I played up the role of money in my letter, so it was easy to think I would decide to put down a young dog because it was too expensive. The biggest factor will be what her vets say, and how many additional surgeries would be required for her to have a healthy life. Which brings me to my update…

        After writing Alison, I texted a handful of friends to ask their thoughts on this. A few said I shouldn’t take the money, but most pointed out that I’m notoriously bad at accepting any kind of help from others (which is true, though I’ve never been offered money before, so I wasn’t looking at it this way) and thought this was a nice opportunity for people to support me. One of the people I texted actually helped set up the campaign with my coworker, unbeknownst to me. She assured me that this was a situation where friends and coworkers just wanted to show me how much they care and offer some help in what is a difficult time, and she reminded me of other campaigns set up to help friends and colleagues in the past. She and a few others who I contacted who’d donated anonymously told me to take a step back and try to look at this as an opportunity for people to try to help me through a hard spot. Others pointed out that, while I was able to pull the initial surgery funds from savings, these donations will help me pay for additional surgeries. So, while I still feel unworthy, I am working hard to accept that people want to help me.

        There are a lot of unknowns ahead, but one thing is clear. I work with some fantastic people!

          1. Letter Writer Here :)*

            Thank you! All these encouraging comments really make this whole situation better!

        1. Mirea*

          This is lovely and I agree with your friend. People want to help. And opportunity to rally, to show support, to give – these are the things that build a community.

          However, I get why you’re hesitant to accept especially with a big vacation coming up. It would be OK, I think, to let people know that you’ve earmarked any donated money into a separate account for your pup. If you’re willing, this would help with the optics.

          Love to your doggo. I know how important they are.

          1. Letter Writer Here :)*

            Thank you all for such kind responses!

            Yeah … the vacation thing! I’m still worried about the optics, but I might be overly worried about it because I haven’t taken a trip in a long time. I’m going to be seeing family and using airline points, so it’s an economical trip, but it’s in a very desirable location. And, of course, no one knows the ins-and-outs of how I’m paying for it (or that everything aside from food was already paid for long before my dog got sick). That said, I am just so incredibly grateful that people would give to me and I would hate for anyone to think I was being flippant with their gifts. I don’t know that canceling the trip is an option since nothing is really refundable, but I certainly don’t need to splash the whole trip all over social media or make a big deal of it.

            1. KR*

              Also something to consider if puppo is still ill – she may require more advanced pet care than you were planning while you’re away. I have a senior doggo with a serious disease and I have to invest in better than average dog sitters to ensure they know what symptoms to look for if he were to have a heart attack or medical emergency, that they will be him to a vet if needed, and to ensure they will not forget his medication which he needs to live. While you are on vacation, the GoFundMe money could not only go to her surgeries but to a super fantastic dog sitter or boarding at the vet.

              1. Letter Writer Here :)*

                This was a huge point of concern! Fortunately, in addition to wonderful coworkers, I’ve got wonderful dog sitters, too. Her still being ill could end up being the reason I cancel the trip, but I’m really hoping I don’t have to!

                1. KR*

                  I hope you don’t have to cancel too. I have nearly cancelled a couple trips because my happy boy was feeling sick. They’re so worth it but wow they’re just like human kids. I’m glad you have great pet sitters. They can be hard to find.

            2. Ovieaptor*

              With regards to your trip, maybe phrasing it something along the lines of my parents live there and I am going to see them. It seems that people figure you are going to stay at their place and not the 5 star world famous hotel (even if you are going to stay at the 5 Star world famous hotel using your other stash of airline points lol). Bonus points if you can somehow work your airfare paid with points in there somehow.

              Thinking of best wishes for your pup and hope she is doing better.

              1. Letter Writer Here :)*

                That’s helpful wording! For some reason, up to this point, I’d downplayed the fact that I’m taking this trip to see my family, so I do plan to be more honest about that. I’ll be saving money staying with them, and Airbnb!

                1. Sarah*

                  Oh totally play up the family aspect! I’ve taken trips to *really cool* places to visit my family, and the quickest way for it to lose its shine for people is to say, “Yeah, I went to go see my parents so most of my time was just hanging out with them.” I mean, sure, maybe you’ll be hanging out with family on the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, but nobody really needs to know that.

            3. square toes*

              My parents used to live at a place that is a well-known beach resort. When I’d say I was going, people would be envious, but I made the point of saying it’s a trip to visit family, I’d hint at putting up with drama, and mention that I got no time to spend on the beach because of having to help my parents visit walmart every day. My parents are older, and walmart was an excuse to go into town and walk around. Most people got that it wasn’t the beach resort trip they were imagining.

            4. Green*

              Take the money. It comes with no strings attached, but if it makes you feel better you can always plan to “pay it forward” one day when you are able by providing funds for animal medical care (most vets have a fund for strays/indigent customers, and some nonprofits help people in poverty with their animal’s needs).

        2. Jennifer*

          I think you should go with your initial instincts and not accept the money.

          Hope your doggo pulls through :)

        3. seller of teapots*

          As someone who really struggles with accepting help from people, I wondered upon reading your letter if you might struggle with this also. Regardless of what you decide to do, I’m glad your friend was able to help you see that maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity to let people help you out for a change!

          Best of luck with your dog. <3

        4. Ali G*

          Thanks for the update! It can be hard to accept help. I am glad you have so many people around to help through this ordeal.
          I hope your dog is doing OK!

        5. Hummer on the Hill*

          OP, sorry you’re going through this. I say accept the money with profuse thanks. It makes people feel good to do good for others, and this will just strengthen the bonds between you and your coworkers. If you don’t feel right using it on your dog’s vet bill, donate it to an animal shelter. That way, everyone wins. And, yes, doggie postcards!!

          1. Letter Writer Here :)*

            I was thinking of doggie postcards and maybe making something for the office, like puppychow!

            (And wanting to make puppychow has everything to do with the fact that it’s a funny tie-in because of the name. Nothing to do with an abnormal love of puppychow on my part… )

            1. Bubbleon*

              I’d be happy to also donate to your go fund me if you’re offering puppychow as a thank you…

              Hope everything goes well for your pup! <3

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I only just now thought to do a Google search on puppychow to learn that it’s a funny-looking homemade candy.
              This part of the thread makes SO much more sense now that I figured I should share it with other perplexed readers!

            3. JessaB*

              And also, if you are unable to make that trip because pupper needs you home, that go fund me money that isn’t necessary for pupper’s care could possibly let you take the trip later, or as you said earlier pay for other treatment.

              But I adore the idea of pupper thank you notes, that sounds like the most adorable thing ever. And puppychow yes to that too.

              Is there a blog or a place where you might have posted pics of the amazing pupper? Would love to see them.

        6. Slartibartfast*

          If you don’t use all the money on your own dog, every veterinary office I know keeps some sort of good sam fund and would put it to good use. That would keep the spirit of the gift if you aren’t comfortable accepting all the funds. You have riches beyond money and good people around you.

          1. Sharikacat*

            I do like the idea of potentially donating that money to a humane society or vets to put towards covering the medical costs of others who couldn’t afford medicine or surgeries that would do more for those animals than your own. Just be upfront with approaching the donators that while you are deeply moved and appreciate their show of care and aid, you don’t need the donated funds but want to put their money towards a similar use, if they would allow it. Then find a small way to show your appreciation, as you’ve already thought about.

        7. TeapotDetective*

          Very late to the party, but wanted to add my voice to the mass of well wishes for you and your doggo. The decision of quantity of life vs. quality of life for your pet is the most difficult one you can face as their human. :( Best of luck to the both of you, and here’s hoping for many more years of slobbery chew toys and doggy cuddles for the two of you.

        8. Miranda*

          I’ve had a very sick pet before too. Euthanizing a pet, for most people, is a very hard decision, and I don’t put any blame on you for it.

        9. TootsNYC*

          these donations will help me pay for additional surgeries.

          This was the thought I had. Having this money will remove a lot of the “can I afford it?” question from future decisions, and make it easier for you to decide on “is all this intrusive medical care fair to my dog?”

          My cat was sick over the Christmas holidays, and the vets said, “Lymphoma–we could do an ultrasound for $500. The treatment is surgery and chemotherapy, and there’s a 50% to 70% success rate, and that’s if we catch it early.”

          I wasn’t going to put my cat through all that pain and trauma and then have her pass away. So I didn’t spend the money.

          My son asked, “Is it that we can’t afford it?” My reply was, “$500 is a lot of money. But if she has lymphoma, she’s probably going to die pretty soon anyway, because I’m not going to put her through surgery and chemotherapy. That’s incredibly hard on her, especially when she’s probably going to die anyway, and we’re just putting it off. We’d just be postponing her death by a few months, not saving her life.”
          (We treated her as if she had an inflamed bowel, and she started gaining weight, and they couldn’t feel the mass in her abdomen anymore. I’ve been thinking over the last couple of weeks that she may still be sick, so we’ll be checking in soon. And since it’s unlikely to be lymphoma, I might be willing to spend money on diagnostic tests.)

          So having this money will mean that when you face this decision, YOU will be more confident that your decision was about the well-being of your dog, and not the money.

        10. TootsNYC*

          and this:
          She and a few others who I contacted who’d donated anonymously told me to take a step back and try to look at this as an opportunity for people to try to help me through a hard spot.

          I have formed the impression that GoFundMe’s are so very common now that people do NOT donate unless they genuinely want to.

          These kinds of funds are so very easy to ignore. You just click past them on Facebook. If someone stops to donate money, they genuinely want to help.
          Even if you ARE going on vacation.

          It’s kind of a replacement for a greeting card. And remember that people are choosing the dollar amount as well.

        11. Burned Out Supervisor*

          I hope your doggo gets better and I know what it is to have to make those very difficult decisions. Lots of support coming your way. If you feel weird about using the money (and/or end up not needing it for additional surgeries), you could consider donating it to the local shelter or organizations that assist pet owners with lower incomes. Several GoFundme’s that I’ve donated to stated in the fundraiser that any moneies donated over their goal would go to a specific charity.

        1. Letter Writer Here :)*

          Thank you all for such kind responses!

          Yeah … the vacation thing! I’m still worried about the optics, but I might be overly worried about it because I haven’t taken a trip in a long time. I’m going to be seeing family and using airline points, so it’s an economical trip, but it’s in a very desirable location. And, of course, no one knows the ins-and-outs of how I’m paying for it (or that everything aside from food was already paid for long before my dog got sick). That said, I am just so incredibly grateful that people would give to me and I would hate for anyone to think I was being flippant with their gifts. I don’t know that canceling the trip is an option since nothing is really refundable, but I certainly don’t need to splash the whole trip all over social media or make a big deal of it.

        2. Letter Writer Here :)*

          Ha! Me too! :-)

          I knew that by including the detail of not being sure I’d go forward with another surgery, I’d get pushback, and that’s OK! Animals and their care is such a loaded topic, and even when you have all the info, wow! Is it hard. That said, it’s been a rough period, so I’m glad I don’t have to read them.

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            I don’t know when our culture became so animal-centric in what feels like an unhealthy way. It really gets to me, but I don’t know if there’s a good solution.

            There’s a discrepancy because our pets are treated as property under law. But they are treated as children under social law. If someone shoots your dog, your only recompense is suit for loss of property. If someone shoots your child, of course it’s murder. We’ve muddied the waters between the two, and judge one another blindly about our behavior towards our animals almost as blindly as our behavior towards children.

            Pets are more than property. By far! I’m not arguing we should treat them as objects! Or children either. Obviously. But pets are not people. They’re just not. As much as I’ve dearly loved my beloved animals over the decades, and how some of them have truly changed my life, they are not people.

            Of course the genie is out of the bottle and there’s no going back to the ‘good ole days’ of abandoning animals or putting them down simply for convenience (those were NOT good days of course!). But I really wish we could be a little less hysterical about animals as a culture.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Wait, what? If someone shoots your dog, they get charged with animal cruelty.
              The rest of your message is really mixed and confusing.

          2. Gaia*

            I’m late to the comments but I hope you see this:

            I had to put my Ludo to sleep in May 2016. It was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. He got sick suddenly and was in an unexplainable amount of pain. I had two choices: hope more tests gave us some direction towards a cause (even after multiple days and my entire savings went to tests that all showed nothing) or decide it was time to let him go and end his suffering.

            I chose to put him down. Yes, additional tests would have been thousands of dollars I couldn’t afford. But that wasn’t what made my decision – it was seeing my dog high out of his mind on pain medicine and still in more pain than he could handle.

            People still judged me. Cruel things were said both directly to me and behind me back. It made me wonder if I’d been wrong about why I’d made that decision. But I know now why and how I came to it and I know it was the right choice. And whatever your decision is, I know it will be the right one for your dog.

            I hope your pup gets better soon but if not, know that he has had a great life with you and he is well loved.

  2. Spargle*

    I am decidedly Not A Fan of the GoFundMe model. When it’s wanted and needed, it can be very helpful. But when – as happened to a friend-of recently – some FeelGood makes a GFM for someone else without checking with them or getting their permission to splash their details all over the internet, oooooh I get chafed.

    I know that isn’t quite what happened here, but people are particular about money. In the case of my friend-of, it was the death of a child, and something that the family actually didn’t want or need financial assistance with, nor did they want the details of their child’s death posted all over Facebook.

    1. Future Homesteader*

      Oooooh that’s particularly gross. :-( I think, with social media, the lines get blurry and we end up accustomed to knowing more about relative strangers than we otherwise would, but there are still so many people who don’t participate in that. And especially in a crisis (the death of a child!) that needs to be respected. While I’m willing to bet that the person who did that had (at least superficially) good intentions, it really feels like an outgrowth of voyeurism and, like you said, a need to feel good irrespective of the wishes of the people actually involved.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        When my son died there were people that wanted to do that for me. I definitely could have used the money, the average 22 year old grad student isnt carrying a lot of life insurance, mine included. However nice the thoughts were, I declined. AFAIK no one did anything when I said “no thank you.”

    2. WellRed*

      That happened recently in our state and it was even more awkward due to what sounded like…disharmony between the mom’s family and the dad’s family.

    3. anon needs a new name*

      Yup. I think it’s often genuinely well meant, but I have seen cases where the person who sets up the GFM is doing it more so they can feel great about being a Good Person than an actual desire to help, and where the GFM wasn’t wanted by the people in need.

      I always think the person the GFM is for should be asked first, if that’s an option. There’s a lot of people who wouldn’t be comfortable with a GFM in their name (I know I certainly wouldn’t). Social media makes it so that a well meaning stranger can set something up online, but there’s also this coinciding culture where people assume that everyone wants help and fundraising from strangers.

      1. LawBee*

        And if the recipient doesn’t want the fundraising, it can be very awkward for them – and they’re already going through enough.

        1. Letter Writer Here :)*

          Thanks for acknowledging that! I kind of panicked when I first saw it because my gut instinct is to not accept help from people. I can think of one time in recent years that I asked a friend for a small favor, and it still bugs me that I didn’t offer her money! That said, I do need to clarify (in response to some of the comments above) that the campaign didn’t really have any details. I’m a pretty open person when it comes to my dogs (they’re splashed all over social media) and the campaign wasn’t really advertised broadly. It was more of an office coming together to do something nice for me.

          Also, agree with all the comments about the weirdness of some GoFundMe campaigns. I’ve donated to a handful before, yet being on the receiving end is unexpected!

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Totally understand. I too am never the one asking favors/help. I know how really uncomfortable that is. To have someone set up a GFM in your name without asking puts you in the position of declining…plus you will wonder if they think you wanted/asked for it.

          2. TootsNYC*

            I can think of one time in recent years that I asked a friend for a small favor, and it still bugs me that I didn’t offer her money!

            Just FYI–I am always really offended when someone offers me money for a favor. I try not to let it change my opinion of the person, but…

            In fact, in Traditional Etiquette, it is considered really offensive. It’s like saying, “I can purchase you.” (there are parallels in other relationships as well, like giving a woman expensive jewels after you’ve slept with her–it implies her favors are for sale, or can be compensated for monetarily)

            The proper response to a favor is to return the favor, and to deepen or reaffirm the relationship–this is the way gifts are intended to work. If you don’t want a deeper relationship with someone, you aren’t supposed to accept the favor or the gift. (and of course, the reaffirmation or deepening of the relationship is supposed to be proportionate to the favor…)

            (That’s also why in Traditional Etiquette, women aren’t supposed to accept of gift of jewelry from a man they aren’t already related to, or engaged to be married to.)

        2. Ms Chanadalar Bong*

          Something like that happened in my workplace: a colleague and their partner got conned by one of those “pay us because we’re giving you a job” type of scams, and lost quite a bit. A well-intentioned, but overzealous teammate jumped on the company mail list, told the whole story and tried to start a collection.

          I’ve never cringed so hard. That poor family had their whole story aired out behind their back. It was stopped pretty quickly – they hadn’t asked for help, and a lot of people had the same reaction I did.

          1. anon needs a new name*

            Yeah. I don’t really like the “I want to help someone so I can feel good!” mentality. It feels too much like patting yourself on the back for showing a shred of human decency or empathy.

            I have a friend who was the victim of a LGBT hate crime and a well-intentioned friend set up a GFM for her with all the personal details and some pictures my friend had posted on her locked, close friends only twitter account. As in, there were ten of us who followed her. The friend who set up the GFM sent it to everyone, including coworkers, effectively outing my coworker who had been closeted at work and posting private information and pictures that had only been shared with friends.

            I want to be kind towards people who want to help, but I find so often it’s more about how they personally feel helping rather than the person who needs help. It doesn’t feel genuine.

            1. Frozen Ginger*

              As if an not-asked-for GFM wasn’t bad enough, this including OUTING a person?!

            2. OhBehave*

              I am so mad for your friend! She was effectively assaulted again. What did the GFM friend say after this hit the fan?

              1. anon needs a new name*

                She was not happy. She emailed GFM to ask them to close the fundraiser, and I think she said something about how she didn’t approve it and that a lot of personal, private info was posted without her permission.

                The friend who set it up didn’t understand what she did wrong. She’s the type of overeager ally that doesn’t really understand more than surface level LGBT+ issues or why people can be happy and proud of their sexuality but still not want to share it with everyone. I had to explain, as another LGBT person, why some of us don’t really want our personal experiences spread online and why our mutual friend was so hurt and embarrassed. The GFM friend just assumed our mutual friend was out at work because “it’s 2018 and it’s okay to be out and we live in a blue state!” which… problematic ally behavior in so many ways.

                The whole thing was a mess, and still is kind of a mess.

                1. Sarah*

                  Please excuse me while I pick my jaw up off of the floor. I am so so sorry for your friend and also that you had to give an unexpected Ally 101 class in the wake of this.

                2. LawBee*

                  omg GFM friend is no ally. If any of my friends outed me like this, I don’t know that I’d be able to still be friends with them.

            3. TootsNYC*

              Yeah. I don’t really like the “I want to help someone so I can feel good!” mentality. It feels too much like patting yourself on the back for showing a shred of human decency or empathy.

              The day you posted this was Ash Wednesday, and in my church one of the readings was:

              Matthew 6:1-6
              “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
              But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

              1. Former Employee*

                I am not Catholic or even part of any religion that recognizes Ash Wednesday.

                However, in my religion, the highest form of charity is when it is given anonymously. Whether it is leaving a food box at someone’s door, ringing the bell and leaving before they can see who was there or giving money to a charity without having your name listed as a donor.

                I see it as that you should be doing good and not be a do-gooder.

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      It kind of is. I think you are being generous with LW’s coworker and that’s good. But I don’t understand at all how someone can start literally soliciting donations for someone else without their input. I saw that an accept/reject option came, but it was too late then.
      If someone is close enough to me to collect money on my behalf, they are close enough to me to ask if I need it. If they aren’t comfortable doing that, we aren’t that kinda friend. Step back.

      1. Letter Writer Here :)*

        Ahh, so new details since I wrote in that will probably make everyone feel a little better about this. A couple close friends were also in on this.

        One person who’d donated to this (unbeknownst to me, until I asked her opinion), helped me get a little perspective that made me feel pretty good. She reminded me how good it feels to help someone who is struggling and said this is an opportunity for people who care about me to do something tangible to help me and in turn, feel better themselves. That resonated because I’ve felt the same way each time I’ve donated to a campaign like this. Also, I should note that no one was really pressuring people to donate. The page was created but I haven’t seen it advertised anywhere. So, that made me feel good.

        1. Auntie Social*

          Helping someone DOES feel good—can you give the money to the vet for her to use when a patient can’t afford surgery? I donated the money after insurance paid me a portion—left it up to the vet to decide who needed help the most. There are a number of retirees in the practice who are on tight budgets, and I know how much pets mean to senior owners. It worked out awfully well.

        2. Matilda Jefferies*

          I think you could go either way on this. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with accepting the money – as others have pointed out, you could save it for other surgeries if needed, or donate it to a shelter if it turns out you don’t. Also, don’t underestimate your need for self-care – if you do have to make that final awful decision to put her down, would you be able to take some time off work if you needed to? Would the money help with that?

          Of course you can turn it down if you really don’t feel right about accepting it. But there’s no reason that you have to. It’s a generous amount for you, but probably a relatively small amount for the individuals who gave it to you. And they’re doing it because they want to help, so I would vote for letting them. And I’m sending lots of love to you and your dog!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I almost never donate to GFM unless I know the people involved or can easily vet the person setting it up, like one for a college friend’s husband whose brother was murdered. They had no money to bury him so some of the extended family set up a fund. (Police did catch the killer, btw.) That one was doable because I knew the friend, and most adults in their twenties and thirties don’t have funeral money just lying around because they don’t expect to die suddenly. It was easy to check also, as it was in the newspapers–they really had no choice about whether it went public or not.

      It makes me angry that things are so expensive and wages are so low that people can’t save up for emergencies. But that’s a rant for another day.

    6. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes, I donated to a GoFundMe for a coworker who was in the hospital, and it was nice except whoever was running it included wayyy too much medical detail in each update- I think the recipient was grateful but a bit embarrassed afterward!

    7. Perpal*

      I have also seen way too many scammers jump on tragedies to collect money “on X’s behalf” then just… run off with it. Both total strangers and people who you think you know at first but show their true colors once they’re holding a few grand for someone else.
      Fortunately probably not the case here but I get really antsy when 3rd parties start collecting money for someone else. Especially weird when the 3rd party didn’t even agree to it.

    8. PlainJane*

      Ditto. I’ll probably catch some grief for this, but I’m not a fan of online begging unless someone is truly desperate, and then it needs to be done with their approval. I’d be horribly embarrassed if someone set up a GoFundMe in my name.

    1. Jane Finch*

      Agreed. I might add something like, “if you want, you can still make a donation to our local animal shelter or any of the other GoFundMe campaigns supporting pets in need.” Looking charitable could mitigate any (unjustified) perception of being ungracious.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        That’s a really nice idea. Whenever I see advice to refuse a gift, I always think of this friend of a friend who I had never met before offering me a free gift that I didn’t want or need. He became irate that I wouldn’t accept his gift. Apparently, it was a cultural thing that not accepting his gift in his country was rejecting his worthiness as a person (I was totally floored at the time).

        Since then I have never rejected a gift because you never know how someone feels about the giving aspect of it. So offering to transfer the funds to a donation in their name sounds like a wonderful middle ground. Thank you for suggesting it!

    2. EPLawyer*

      I think it is very beautiful too. Just the absolutely perfect way to handle this.

      I read the OP’s update about reconsidering. It’s entirely up to you. However, you do not have to accept the money just because others want to show they care. They already are doing that in non-monetary ways.

    3. Letter Writer Here :)*

      Thank you! As you can see from some of my other comments, I’ve decided to swallow my pride and sense of unworthiness and accept the kindness people are offering. But, I am going to be writing each named donor the sweetest thank you note I can come up with, and maybe bringing some treats (like puppy chow! Ha!) into the office when I get a chance.

      And, as others have suggested, I may make a donation to my local humane society once we get through this immediate health crisis.

      1. Rezia*

        I had a friend who did solicit donations to help pay for his dog’s surgery, and we got a super sweet postcard in the mail with a picture of the dog prancing in a field, plus a handwritten note of thanks on the back. I keep it on my fridge :)
        And now, every time I see his dog romping around in photos he posts on social media, I feel really happy that the dog is doing well. It made me feel good that I was able to contribute, because I love my friend and care about animals in general.

  3. Beth Jacobs*

    I’ve never used GoFundMe but I imagine the donations can be refunded fairly easily, so it should actually be easier than if you had $ 2000 in cash and had to go around passing it back to people.
    I hope your dog pulls through!

  4. EOA*

    I don’t know how Go Fund Me works in terms of refunds, but an alternative would be to donate the money raised to another charity yourself (perhaps a charity that helps dogs). I would only do that if there isn’t any possibility of a refund but it would be a nice way to pay the help forward.

    (For instance, a number of Boston Marathon bombing survivors did something similar, since individuals fundraising campaigns were set up in their names, but most of them received settlement funding from a global fund set up to help them. They turned the donations they received from individual campaigns that were set up to help them in donations or funds to help others).

    1. Pop*

      This is a nice thought, but I both a) have very limited spending money, and b) make my own charitable donations as part of my budget. If I give money to someone’s GoFundMe, it’s almost always because I care deeply about that individual and their predicament, and the money is coming out of my spending money for the month. I wouldn’t be super happy if I found out that the money I thought was going to save my friend’s dog was actually going to an animal shelter (which I also support! But I wouldn’t have spent my $10 on this month).

        1. valentine*

          If no refunds were possible, OP could accept the money, give it to the overstepping person who set up the fund, and tell them to return it to the contributors.

          Is “able to pay this bill without going into debt” the required threshold? Why not use the money for the dog’s end-of-life care or to replace the savings? (This is where signing off on the campaign is vital, mainly because coworker roped in clients(!), but also because OP had no say in the wording, which hopefully wasn’t “Help Save Dog!!!”)

          1. Safetykats*

            It should be noted, in trying to decide what to do with the money, that money raised through crowd funding like GFM is taxable income, and GFM will report it as such to the IRS. Because of this, LW is much better off donating any excess and taking an appropriate write off than gifting it back to the organizer, who will have no tax liability and no reasonable way to refund to any donors who were anonymous.

        2. WellRed*

          I actually think GoFundMe’s policy would require refunds rather than the recipient donating it elsewhere.

          1. Safetykats*

            Actually, for the commenters postulating about GFM policy, GFM exercises no control over how donations are spent. Frankly that’s one of the problems with GFM. You may think you’re donating to help pay medical bills, and in fact the recipient buys a new car. If you really want to cover, for example, a veterinary bill only many vets will accept a payment on behalf of a specific person or patient. If you decide on GFM you really just need to be okay with however your money ends up being spent.

      1. EOA*

        Yes, those concerns are why I said I would only use that alternatives if there is no option for refunding.

      2. AnitaJ*

        Absolutely this! Very well said, Pop. While it wouldn’t be the end of the world, I would be slightly irritated.

      3. NerdyWordyBirdy*

        I think that’s one of the hazards of donating, though. Once you give your money, it’s up to the recipient how to use it, regardless of your intention. In this instance, hopefully the money can be refunded (and OP’s suggested note seems great), but if not, EOA’s suggestion seems super reasonable.

        1. Blerpborp*

          Exactly, you can’t control how your donation is spent once it’s given- especially if it is set up by someone other than the person who gets the money. Regardless, I guess I am a terrible person because I would have no problem accepting the money and putting it in my savings/towards the home repairs that the vet money would have covered and feel that was precisely how the money is meant to be used so donation would not be necessary.

      4. Anon Anon Anon*

        I wonder if she could contact each donor and ask if they’d prefer a refund or for their donation to go to a related charity (such as a medical fund for shelter dogs or dogs with low income owners; we have both in my city).

        1. Beth*

          That’s a lot of work for someone who never asked for this or set it up in the first place to take on!

      5. Lucy*

        I guess LW would be using the donated money to pay herself back for what she spent on the surgery, then using her own money to make the donation.

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Yeah this is sort of my thought. Reject the GoFundMe, let GFM issue all the refunds to the people who donated, then say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me, I really appreciate it! I was able to cover Fifi’s vet bills and won’t be needing the money, but if you’d still like to contribute, Fifi would love it if you made donations in her name to (animal shelter) which will benefit their low-cost veterinary program so low-income families can afford to care for their pets.” Or whatever.

    3. Soveryanon*

      I seem to think that GoFundMe is able to refund donations. For example, there was a big scandal in my local area involving a homeless man and a couple who set up a GFM site which they claimed was to help the homeless man – but it turned out to have been a scam cooked up between the three of them and I believe they are all facing criminal charges. GFM stated they were going to refund all the donations they’d received for the man, even though the couple had taken and spent most of the money on vacations, fancy cars and the like. :(

      1. anon needs a new name*

        Was that the one that hit major news networks earlier this year? Because I definitely remember reading about something similar.

        It’s a shame that GFM scams are why people won’t donate – it’s one of the reasons why I’m particularly hesitant to donate to strangers, because you never really know how the money is being used.

        1. Soveryanon*

          Yep – just saw an update that the homeless man and the lady who initiated the GFM are both pleading guilty to multiple counts of fraud. Ugh.

          1. anon needs a new name*

            Yes, I saw that headline right after I had posted my initial comment. What an awful story.

      2. EOA*

        I just Googled their refund policy and it seems like it is possible, so perhaps just letting people know that their donation will be refunded but that there are other options to helping pets, etc., would be the right way to go.

      3. Gatomon*

        Yep, I remember hearing about that. Scams are the big reason I am not a fan of online fundraisers. It’s too easy to scam people and odds are, a lot of folks aren’t getting caught.

        I think that scam only blew up because the homeless guy didn’t get his cut and he went after the couple.

    4. anon needs a new name*

      GFM definitely does issue refunds. It takes a few weeks to happen, but it’s definitely an option, which I think they have to have in place just because they’ve had more than their fair share of scams or people who didn’t ask for a GFM in their name.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same – it sounds like LW’s decided on a gracious course of action, so I have nothing to add – just good thoughts and well-wishes for both her and her dog. We have been through expensive pet health issues and also had to make tough decisions about whether or not continuing treatment was in the best interest of the pet – both are so tough. My heart goes out to her.

  5. Bee Eye Ill*

    As an alternative, accept the money then quietly donate it all to your local Humane Society. They’d greatly appreciate it.

    1. Chuck*

      That would be a nice thing to do with the money if she doesn’t need it, but still leaves the problem of sketchy optics when the LW takes their big trip. Returning the money with an encouragement to donate it to charity takes care of that problem, and might still result in something like the Humane Society getting funding.

      1. irene adler*

        Or, apprise all the donors of your plans to donate the funds to the humane society. Just to be transparent. Betting they will be fine with your doing this. But if someone isn’t, you don’t want to cause hard feelings.

        1. valentine*

          But how likely are they to say, “No; I wanted to help your dog, not randos,” especially if the dog dies?

          1. irene adler*

            Can’t say.
            As for me, I’d vehemently object if the funds I donated to a Go Fund Me went elsewhere without my knowledge. I would think that was fraud.

            1. Kaitlyn*

              Well, these funds still would go to the recipient; she’s just passing them along to another cause.

                1. irene adler*

                  In fact, the Go Fund Me website contains statements about the misuse of funds :

                  It’s not simply a matter of donating the funds to a charity-even a worthwhile charity. It’s a matter of not using the funds per the intent of the Go Fund Me account.

                2. Kaitlyn*

                  But she’s not the one collecting them. She’s the recipient of a gift…? Like, I can’t imagine that someone who didn’t consent to having a GFM is legally on the hook to spend those monies as advertised someone else. Please feel free to lawyer me on this.

            2. Goya de la Mancha*

              Would that play out the same if the GFM raised over the amount needed? Like if it pulled in 8K instead of 5K – what would your feelings be on the extra money?

              1. irene adler*

                I think it should be returned to the donor.
                Or, with donor’s permission, donated.

          2. Beth*

            Some people probably are donating to help a coworker in need, rather than out of any particular interest in doggy health per se. I personally think that once you give a gift, you need to accept that it’s out of your hands what the recipient does with it, but there are people in the world who would be frustrated with their donation going to something other than its intended purpose.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I wouldn’t do that without telling the people who donated. That’s shady and one of the MANY reasons I hate GFM type sites.

  6. Sloan Kittering*

    Does the site let you return the donations automatically to the people who made them? That would be the easiest and most convenient, but I don’t know if that’s an option. If you aren’t able to do that, and you’d have to write everybody individual checks or something, then yes I think a donation to a shelter (or perhaps the vet keeps an emergency fund?) would be kindest.

    1. Psyche*

      From what I can tell, it does. The best thing to do might be to work with the campaign organizer to turn donations off but keep the campaign visible. Then they can post the update/thank you with the suggestions to donate to a local shelter right on the page. That way anyone who gets the unexpected refund can go to the page to see what happened.

    1. irene adler*

      I would procure all the donor’s permission to do first. Just to be transparent.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t think this would be right. It would be great, but the humane society is not the intended recipient of the donations. As a donor, I wouldn’t like my gift to be redirected without my input. Some have suggested the OP decline the GoFundMe and suggest donating to a shelter or rescue group, and I think that’s the best way to go.

    3. irene adler*

      Do the Go Fund Me rules allow the recipient to use the donated funds for other than the intended use?

      If so, then doesn’t that bring into question the integrity of every GFM account that is set up there?

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        There’s a big difference between “the person organizing the campaign does something else than promised with the money” and “the person on whose behalf the campaign was organized receives the money and spends it on something other than the expected thing”.

        I’m extremely skeptical of your claim that once the money passes to the person or cause it was intended to benefit, that there is any further *legal* obligation on how the funds are spent.

        Social obligation? Yeah, sure. Letting your friends and coworkers give you money for a pet’s urgent medical care and then not getting the pet treated but instead taking a vacation on a cruise ship should get you seriously side-eyed. But if you aren’t the one who ran the campaign, and had no part in it except “hey look money that’s mine now”, it’s pretty hard to say that you can’t, in fact, spend the money how you like.

    4. IheardItBothWays*

      There is too great a change that someone will have problems with whatever charity the person picks. I have problems with the way some shelters run their operations and would not be happy to have my money redirected that way. I also don’t want to donate to large orgs that don’t even run a shelter. Better to give the money back.

  7. ClumsyCharisma*

    I am sorry to hear about your dog and I hope they make a full recovery. I do agree that the optics could be bad. As much as I would like to think I wouldn’t I could very easily be irritated if someone went on a nice vacation right after I donated money to them.
    Same reason I didn’t donate to a friend who is constantly going on lavish vacations several times per year but then set up a gofundme to get a down payment for a house.
    I do donate to sudden death/illness/injury for those I know but so many other gofundme campaigns seem to be for things that should be personal responsibility.

    1. Health Insurance Nerd*

      LW, first, I’m so sorry about your dog, I really hope she pulls through!

      Second, I applaud the amount of integrity that you have, I really do; it makes me happy to know that there are people like you in the world :)

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        (I meant this to be a standalone comment, not sure how I nested it here!)

    2. HeatherT*

      Someone would have to have quite the compelling story for me to want to donate to a GFM for a house down payment.

  8. Crivens!*

    LW, your response sounds absolutely perfect. And agreed with other people so far that GFMs and other fundraisers should only be started either by the person in question or with their complete permission. It was nice of your coworker to do but they should have asked you first.

  9. Black Bellamy*

    Removed. The letter writer isn’t asking how you feel about her veterinary care decisions, and sounds like she’s being very thoughtful about this. The kindest option is not always “keep alive at all costs.” – Alison

    1. Crivens!*

      Did you miss the part where she said she also doesn’t want the dog to go through more of this, if the dog needs more surgery?

      On top of that, being a good pet owner does not mean shelling out any amount of money, ever, to keep the pet alive. Sometimes putting a pet down is the best thing you can do.

      1. LITbluejay*

        +1, thank you. Sometimes having a pet means making a difficult decision for many reasons (or even one reason!), none of which you need to justify to strangers, especially on the internet.

      2. Future Homesteader*

        Yup! That’s 100% OP’s call, and I’m sure it’s the right one, although incredibly hard to make. She definitely doesn’t need internet strangers shaming her, especially ones who don’t have all (or really any) of the pertinent information.

      3. wittyrepartee*

        Dogs do not understand why they are in pain after surgery, and people are unable to discuss the pros and cons of different kind of medical care with them. It is not always a kindness to keep them alive at all costs, as it can be with humans. The difference is that people often have the capacity to discuss their care.

        1. Letter Writer Here :)*

          In the cutest/saddest way, she’s been rolling over and showing everyone her “boo boo” every time someone comes over. On a happier note, she’s feeling fantastic now, getting her attitude back :)

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        That is incredibly unfair and just untrue. Sometimes keeping a pet alive is NOT the right thing to do, especially if they’re suffering and there is not a foreseeable end to that suffering.

      2. Not a Dr*

        Ways to save a dogs life can be very painful and invasive though, and if this dog is older they may never recover. It may actually be more cruel to put this dog through a surgery. OP and their vet are the only ones who can decide that.

      3. Crivens!*

        Yes, OP should definitely assume she’ll get enough to pay for a third or even forth surgery, and just keep paying for surgeries no matter how many are needed, in order to be a ~good~ pet owner.

        *rolls eyes*

      4. bluephone*

        No it sounds like the OP, being the person who knows their dog the best, sees that pet health care is not so cut and dried as “have surgery, problems solved.” I think OP is thinking long and hard about the pet’s emotional and mental well-being as well as physical health (especially if this dog is towards the end of their expected life span, other health issues that might be in play, etc). The OP is not being a bad pet owner here and it’s incredibly disingenuous and frankly, rude, of people to suggest otherwise.

        And I’ve twice had to make that call of, “do we continue with possibly-unsuccessful, and yes, expensive treatment that may very well make my beloved pet’s quality of life worse, or do we focus our efforts on making their remaining time as comfortable and happy as possible so they can die in peace and love, surrounding by everyone who’s had a chance to say goodbye.” If that makes me an “uninterested” pet owner who’s only focused on “lavish vacations,” then so be it.

    2. Mr. Tyzik*

      This is unnecessarily harsh. OP seems like a responsible, caring pet owner by paying for the initial surgeries rather than opting to put the dug down. It may be that euthanasia is the kindest way to treat OP’s dog.

      A dog getting sick is not OP’s fault. And OP has the option to accept the funds or not based on the best decision from the information available.

    3. RaccoonLady*

      I don’t want to derail, but as someone in the veterinary profession, I want to say that the OP’s proposed plan of action is actually very humane. If it’s a condition that already required one expensive surgery, and would require more if dog doesn’t improve, it’s probably something that is impairing the dog’s quality of life to the point where the kindest thing to do is to euthanize. It is often more humane to euthanize an animal than put them through living for months in chronic pain and worsening conditions.
      Hoping that the OP’s dog pulls through and recovers well after this surgery, but they are by no means a bad dog owner for keeping euthanasia on the table.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Thank you. Not a vet, but a former veterinary assistant: Keeping an animal alive at all costs is *not* the default most humane option. If they were human we could explain that this sucks right now and they’ll have to make adjustments for the rest of their lives, but they’re not human and all they know is that it hurts and they don’t feel well and they are tired of people messing with them. My last dog pulled through her various ailments and lived to a grand old age, but after about the second week-long vet stay (pancreatitis #2) she lots all patience with the staff and was a grouchy cuss with them for the rest of her life. And I know they treated her well, but she had just had enough. If she had developed a condition that required repeated surgeries or intensive treatments, she would have been miserable.

      2. MustLoveDogs*

        Just wanted to say, I really appreciate this. Not the OP, but my dog was just diagnosed with a chronic condition and we are having these difficult conversations right now. It’s hard to know what the “right” choice is for our beloved dog, especially when money is a factor, even though it feels like it shouldn’t be.

        1. dawbs*

          I”m sorry because that’s always a hard choice.

          I do think having a good vet that you can ask questions of is helpful. I know that my vet has helped us know where to fall on that spectrum (without actually telling us what to do), and goes with the question of whether we were keeping the pet alive for it’s sake or ours, as the question to ask when they need to make that nudge.

        2. Kms1025*

          Thru personal heartache, I’ve come to truly believe that often times the last act of loving kindness that you can provide to your beloved pet is to do something they can’t do for themselves, decide when enough is enough and let them be at rest. I also love the mental imagery of the rainbow bridge. It gives me comfort. I’m sorry you’re possibly facing this decision OP. As to your actual question, your plan is wonderful and thoughtful and should be very much appreciated.

    4. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!*

      As someone who both benefited from GoFundMe for my beloved cats, and lost both cats in January and am still grieving their loss, I would say your response is unkind. This is a very complex issue emotionally and financially. A lot of factors go into these decisions surrounding care and the end of life of pets, so please show a little more compassion. I strongly suspect there is a lot more going on that the OP just didn’t want to get into, rightfully so, since her question is pretty narrow.

      1. Letter Writer Here :)*

        I’m so sorry to hear about your lost cats- losing one animal is so hard. Losing two seems unbearable!

        Thanks to everyone who is being so kind and supportive! And to the commenters who disagree, I know where you’re coming from and may have made it seem like money was *the* determining factor in whether or not to do additional surgeries. I’m not sure what I’ll do in the end (and, I’m still hopeful that my dog will heal up fine and it’ll be smooth sailing!), but if one or two more surgeries can likely cure what she’s got and if the vet thinks she’ll be fine after that, then I’ll do what I can to make that happen. Bringing it back to the letter, I actually think this is why the campaign was started. I’d been telling my coworker that it might be another surgery that I couldn’t afford, so I know some people donated to make this next decision a little easier.

        I’m sorry to see so many people can relate to this. Animals truly are part of the family!

    5. WellRed*

      What a cruel thing to say. Almost as cruel as keeping a pet alive that is suffering needlessly.

    6. Clever Alias*

      My elderly cat had a straddle thrombosis. $5,000 to save him. I didn’t have that kind of money.

      But I would have spent it.

      What stopped me? The vet saying that there was still a high chance that since it happened once, it would happen again. And maybe this time it would be at 9am and not 9pm, and he would be screaming in pain for hours, alone, at work instead of minutes because I was at home and rushed him to the vet immediately.

      You don’t know enough here, and your comment is rude.

      1. Aveline*

        I’m sure I’m not the only one here who has, trying to be kind to pets, regretting keeping them alive for longer than we should.

        I would rather regret putting a pet down slightly too soon than putting it down to late and knowing it was scared and in physical pain.

      2. Miss V*

        I’m so sorry to hear about your kitty. It sounds like he was lucky enough to have a wonderful thoughtful owner who did what was best for him. He was very lucky to have you.

    7. WakeUp!*

      Wow. This isn’t helpful at all and is ridiculously dramatic to boot. I guess my advice is don’t write any more comments.

    8. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Your advice to LW is to not get any more dogs because she doesn’t think it’s right to spend $10,000 putting a dog through miserable medical care.

      My advice to you is to try to tone down the condescending piety.

    9. JJ*

      Who knows how much additional surgeries will cost, or when they will be needed. Letter writer may not have the money to cover more surgery bills if they exceed the $2000 raised. And I think the optics of holding on to the money “just in case” aren’t very good. And trying to return the money 6 months from now when the dog is all better may not be an option.

    10. Betsy S*

      The poster also mentioned not being sure if she wanted to put the pet through this. Money can be a part of that decision without it being the only factor. I’m dealing with an ill pet myself, and like the poster I had the money to swing an expensive treatment, and I may be facing a similar decision if he relapses. If the doctor tells me that an additional four-figure sum would only get my pet a short, uncertain time, it may be time to say we’ve done enough. Even the kindest and gentlest vet can be a scary or painful experience for a pet, and pets don’t understand why we’re putting them through it. If I had unlimited money it would simplify the decision but probably would not change it.

    11. Zephy*

      We don’t know what the dog’s illness is, or what “additional surgery” might entail. It’s not OP’s fault that their dog is sick, and they aren’t a bad person for not wanting to put their dog through extensive medical treatment.

      I don’t know if you’re being deliberately obtuse about the optics problem, but just in case you really don’t see it: OP is worried the donors might see them accept this sum of money, ostensibly for vet bills, and then turn around and go on an expensive trip. If you’re a donor, from the outside, if you aren’t close to OP and don’t know that both the vet bills and the vacation have already been paid for without your help, it looks a lot like they “took the money and ran.” It’s not a good look, and OP is right to be concerned about that and want some guidance on navigating this delicate situation.

    12. Emmie*

      That’s really an awful thing to say. It’s normal for people to discontinue pet medical treatment for a variety of factors. That cost is quite steep, and it sounds like the medical interventions are tough on the animal.

    13. Kaybee*

      Several years ago, my beloved dog was brutally injured in a dog attack. The attack left him problems that plagued him for years. We did everything we could for him, and eventually agreed to very expensive surgery that we hoped could restore a good quality of life to him. It was unsuccessful. The vet was willing to keep trying, but there was no reason to believe there was a better chance for a good outcome. We made the call to stop subjecting him to painful procedures, and worse, painful procedures he couldn’t understand. It was heartbreaking to see him in pain, but seeing him so bewildered by the pain added another layer. Making that call was devastating, and even years later I am crying thinking about it. We didn’t put him down because we didn’t love him; we put him down because we did.

    14. That Redshirt.*

      Try to see this from an empathetic point of view Black. The OP does care very much about the quality of life of their pet. In many cases, it doesn’t make sense (from a wellbeing perspective) to sign a pet up for ongoing surgeries or treatments. Pain from surgery recovery is a real thing.

  10. Not a Dr*

    If you have an animal shelter or charity you support it may be helpful to give another outlet.

    “I can’t accept this generous offer, and I am lucky to be in a position where I can afford this bill. You are all so generous, and me and my dog send our thanks to you. If you would like to donate to help dogs in need here is a charity I support”

    Not as a plug, but as a way for people to still feel that good rush.

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      This could be a helpful outlet, yet you may want to be prepared in case people want their money back instead of letting a charity have it.

      Some people may give to a known person vs. a faceless charity and may have donated only because they thought the funds were going directly to you. Likely a small percentage but don’t be surprised.

      1. Not a Dr*

        Hi Mr. Tyzik, I did not suggest giving directly to a charity, rather returning the money and reminding people of the option to donate.

      2. Lonely Aussie*

        And some people may have major issues with the charity of choice. I’d happily donate to one of the local animal shelters but not to the others because I have serious issues with the way in which funds are used (one local group takes on more animals than they have facilities for and another seems to be alive-at-any-cost if the pictures of the piglet in its wheelchair are anything to go by) so I’d be pretty annoyed if money I donated there ended up in the imo dodgy shelters hands.

        Op, best of luck with the pup.

  11. Chel*

    We almost had to deal with that situation last year. My mom was in a car accident (she has made a full recovery) and a coworker of hers reached out to me letting me know that she would be happy to coordinate a fundraising campaign on our behalf. My mom considers her a friend but hadn’t her, or any other coworkers, know that she was basically banking her pay in anticipation of retiring and living off my dad’s income. Luckily mom was lucid enough by that point to shut it down so I didn’t have to have an awkward conversation about my parents finances.

    1. Letter Writer Here :)*

      Glad your mom has recovered! Regardless of which route people choose (accept/decline) for donations, I do love that so many of us have thoughtful people who actively want to help. I know in so many cases, people desperately need funds but can’t bring themselves to ask. I know I’ll be looking for ways to pay it forward in the future.

  12. blink14*

    OP – I have an elderly cat who became extremely ill last fall and was hospitalized for 4 days, and is still on long term antibiotics. The cost is well over $6,000 at this point, and very fortunately, my family has rallied to help pay the bills. I did have a very generous friend offer to loan me some and try to collect more from other friends, but I gently declined and thanked her profusely.

    My cat is still facing another medical issue that, if she were younger, would make a lot of sense to operate on. However, given her age, other ailments, and the cost of this surgery (and potential complications down the road), I’ve opted to not do the surgery at this point. I’m considering the money put in so far as an investment, and am caring for her medically in a way that prolongs that investment – treating what I can treat in a sensible way.

    However, my cat is elderly, and your dog is so, so young. If the treatment required has a good outcome and the dog’s life would not be significantly impacted in a long term way, please consider doing that additional surgery. You’ve already invested $5,000 in the emergency surgeries and it sounds like she is responding well. My family’s dog, who lived to be 13 after 3 years of cancer, had a severe injury when she was about 3 years old. My parents spent about $5k on emergency surgery, and while she limped for the rest of her life, and more surgery was always on a possibility, it was so worth that investment. On the flip side, the only cancer treatment option was to amputate her leg, which generally only adds about 6 months to their lives, and my mom opted not to do that, and our dog lived for another 3 years, with medication towards the end.

    You’re in the thick of this right now – the stress, having to think about making awful decisions, not much sleep, spending a lot of money. But please, consider the investment you’ve made already and the long life your dog may have ahead of her. I say this very sincerely as someone who considered the same possibility for their pet just 6 months ago. If money is truly a problem for you going forward, maybe accept the kind donations. If you really feel you cant, I think your response is well thought out of appreciate.

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      LW asked for advice on the GFM, not the dog. Alison noted that above. I empathize with your cat, but quality of life isn’t always an age issue.

      1. ElspethGC*

        Agreed. We lost a one-year-old cat twenty years ago to a brain tumour, and made the decision to have him put to sleep once we found out (it was already preventing his eye from dilating and was almost certainly hurting him) rather than dragging it on until he was in terrible pain 24/7. We lost his littermate last summer a few weeks from her 21st birthday. The vet warned us that a mass in her cheek, that didn’t seem to be causing pain, would be inoperable due to her age; we waited until it *was* causing discomfort and then made the difficult decision. In both cases, it was the right thing to do.

        The brother didn’t have a better quality of life just because he was a year old – it was arguably an even *worse* quality than his sister’s was twenty years later. Age has nothing to do with it.

        1. blink14*

          Age is a common factor in illnesses that can be treated successfully, both for humans and for animals. My cat’s situation was a very unexpected illness that rarely happens to solo indoor cats. I chose not to have the drastic surgery recommended, but instead chose the more conservative approach, as her older age and other medical issues (that have only a small effect on quality of life day to day), made the surgery a little more dangerous, and I did not think she would survive the recovery period.

          Had she been 5 years younger? I may have chosen to go with the surgery, because she would’ve had a better chance of survival.

      2. blink14*

        My point is that my cat’s age (and this is common for elderly pets) has stopped me from taking more drastic (and costly) measures, because I know it won’t extend her life for a significant amount of time, partially because of her age.

        Sometimes with younger animals, it does make sense to go forward with a surgery, and the cost, because the return on both quality of life and length of life is high.

        OP points out they don’t have the money to continue, and they don’t want their dog to continue suffering. However, if the money is available, does that change the perspective, if the potential surgery points to a positive outcome? It could for some people.

    2. AVetStudent*

      We don’t know what LW’s dog’s diagnosis is or what implications it may have for its quality of life down the road – surgery or no surgery. The treatment plan (including the possibility of euthanasia, which may be a valid option because it ends suffering) is something that should be decided by LW with the help of a team of veterinary professionals they trust. I think we’re safe to assume that LW cares deeply about their dog and won’t jump to euthanasia without giving it some serious thought and discussing the situation in detail with their veterinarian. Only they (vet + owner) can decide what’s best for this dog.

      1. blink14*

        I agree – however, being the pet owner in the thick of things trying to make these decisions, partially based on finances, is a complicated thing to do, and knowing whether or not you have the funds available to make certain decisions is a huge factor.

        1. valentine*

          OP knows what funds they have and has chosen not to accept these. There are people here worried about the optics, which I don’t get. I assume the vacation is paid for, but I wouldn’t expect someone I gave money to to meet some bizarre poverty line and never have fun or do home repair. It’s understandable if OP doesn’t want to deal with the judgment and possible feeling among the donors that they get a vote in her medical decisions, especially when they are colleagues and clients and her coworker has already overstepped.

          1. blink14*

            I have no issues with the OP going on her vacation, doing home repairs, etc, it’s her money. But they do point out that they don’t have the money for a further surgery, which leads one to think, well what if they did?

            I wouldn’t want someone taking up a collection for me without my approval either, its awkward and can put you in a bad spot.

    3. Letter Writer Here :)*

      Thank you for the wise advice, especially where you note that I’m still in the midst of a very stressful time.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your cat! None of these decisions are easy, even when pets are older.

      Some of my friends were shocked I would pay the initial $5,000 for surgery, but as you explained, she’s so young, how could I not? I am glad I did have the ability to cover this, because I know many others aren’t as fortunate. I am going to just slow down on my desire to make decisions for every hypothetical and just focus on getting the pup well now (in terms of recovery, she’s doing fantastic! Hardest part right now is trying to keep her calm- she is ready to play!).

      1. blink14*

        Hi LW – I’m the worst at overthinking hypothetical situations, so I totally get that stress of trying to figure out how to deal with every possibility. I’m hoping my advice didn’t offend you at all, just coming from a place of experience. Wishing you and your dog all the best!

  13. Ali G*

    It sounds like you have the option of not accepting the money altogether. That is what I would do. I would say something like “I so touched by how much everyone wanted to help me through this time with my dog. Fortunately I have an emergency fund for just these types of things, so in good conscious I can not accept your money. I really appreciate all the flexibility and support you all have given me over the last few weeks and I will keep you posted on Sparky’s progress.”
    I love the idea of a card from you and the dog.
    I hope your pup gets better soon!

  14. ArtsNerd*

    Everyone’s points above are correct and wonderful. And you, OP seem to be wonderful as well. I also want to say that if you wanted to accept the money, that would be ok too!

    It was a financial hit for you, even if you are not going into debt for it, so it’s a bit different than if you barely noticed the impact on your budget. The optics of taking the trip are a wrinkle, but not an insurmountable one.

    1. Letter Writer Here :)*

      Thanks for this! After I emailed Alison, I texted a bunch of friends to get their thoughts and most of them said what you said. They agreed that, yes, I’m fortunate that this doesn’t make me destitute but that it still doesn’t make this hard. One of the people I texted had helped set up the campaign unbeknownst to me and convinced me that I need to accept the money. The money will be a huge help, especially if my dog does require additional surgery, but honestly, just knowing that people care about me so much has really lifted my spirits more than I could have imagined.

      1. Carlie*

        I think you could split all of the difference here, especially if you’re worried about the vacation optics – you could let the donors know that you were able to cover the first surgery, but you aren’t sure if future ones will be indicated, and with that in mind, you’d be happy to give them a refund at any time if they would like. That way they have all of the info, including about the vacation (assuming it happens before all of the health issues are entirely cleared up), and they can decide if they want their money to reimburse you for the first surgery, to go to the next surgery if and when it happens, etc. That way you aren’t turning around and using it for something else, but letting them be in control of their donation with all of the information that the coworker who set up the GFM page didn’t have at the time. And you aren’t just declining it and giving it all back, because there will be at least some who will want you to keep it regardless and that will be a help.

      2. ArtsNerd*

        Another thing to keep in mind is that, in my experience (on both ends) is that many people really want to help — and if there’s nothing they can practically do to be helpful it’s actually stressful for them. An outlet for them to give a few dollars toward the ’cause’ is as much a benefit for them as it is for you.

        Factor in the fact that it’s a dog, and amplify the above x20 or so? Just a rough guess. People are very invested in the wellbeing of dogs that aren’t necessarily their own.

        Whichever direction you choose, I know you’ll handle it appropriately.

        Best of luck, and I do hope you enjoy the hell outta your trip.

  15. Asenath*

    I hope the dog does well.

    I think returning the money with warm thanks is the way to go. My initial response, should it happen to me, would be anger at the invasion of privacy and at the arrogance of someone speaking for me; asking for money on my behalf, but I hope I would be able to calm down, realize its all well-meaning, and respond as described. I wouldn’t donate it to anyone else because it’s not my money. I’d want to return it, and leave its final disposal up to the real owners of the money.

    Money is a really touchy issue. Local appeals for individuals are, to my mind, best when the family or individual lets it be known publicly that they’re OK with it. Having some well-meaning acquaintance go behind my back and tell everyone what they know of my problems and ask for money – NO. Some people don’t like to “take charity” – or don’t need it, and feel bad about taking donations that could have been made to someone more needy. Others are grateful for any help.

  16. yup*

    “More broadly, people sometimes tend to assume that whatever their financial situation is, others who seem like them probably have similar finances. ”

    This is so true. I really hate how GoFundMe seems to be a replacement for an emergency fund. Something completely unexpected/uninsurable, sure take up a collection upon asking the beneficiary… but it seems to reinforce our disinclination to save money even for those who should be able to.

    OP, so sorry about your dog! Kudos to you for having your finances in order.

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      Kudos to you for having a job that makes saving money so easy to build an emergency fund.

      Some of us aren’t so lucky.

      I’m not saying use GFM for any emergency, but some compassion for those who aren’t in your shoes would be nice.

      1. Crivens!*

        Yeah, I flinch whenever GFM is brought up here because it can bring out some judgmental opinions about finances, though I don’t think yup’s comment was meant that way. I used a GFM when I was ready to move from a sober home to an apartment of my own and had no way of saving money for deposits and needed items for my own place. I’m sure that would ping as somehow irresponsible and frivolous for many, and I wish I could show them my financials at the time and dare them to find where I could have been saving money.

        1. Jennifer*

          Agreed. We don’t know the details of everyone’s situation, and I think GFM can be a great resource in the right circumstances.

          1. valentine*

            it seems to reinforce our disinclination to save money even for those who should be able to
            People asking for money you don’t think they need is a great way for them to save.

      2. yup*

        I am fully aware that not everyone’s position pays enough to effectively save money and until less than a year ago have not been so fortunate myself. I fully have compassion for people that aren’t in that position and can empathize with them fully. In fact, I specifically referenced “those who **should** be able to.”

        1. Rainy*

          In this context, I’d only apply “should” to yourself, not to other people. You do not have anywhere near enough information about the average person’s situation to be throwing “should”s around.

    2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      I understand your sentiment, but please understand there are tons of people who do not have the luxury of having an emergency fund, often through no fault of their own.

      1. yup*

        Apparently my comment was not taken correctly. I am aware that not everyone has an emergency fund and not everyone is not in a position to save money because of their circumstances, which is why I referenced those who should be able to. I just don’t like that the default assumption is that people don’t save / don’t have an emergency fund built up. I think GFM perpetuates this idea. The coworker assumed OP needed/ wanted the money instead of asking first, which is the way it should work.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I love how you quote the line about making the presumption about others’ financial states, and then immediately follow it up by assuming that people who put up GFMs were perfectly capable of building sufficient emergency savings but chose not to do so.

      1. Crivens!*

        I don’t think that’s what yup is doing. The end of the post reads: “but it seems to reinforce our disinclination to save money even for those who should be able to.”

        As in those who aren’t able to aren’t included in yup’s statement at all.

      2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        We all know people who spend freely without keeping a buffer fund. A friend of mine has two cars, but nothing in the bank. And you can bet that faced with a financial emergency, his response would be to start a GFM. It wouldn’t even occur to him to sell one of the cars or look for a roommate.

        1. Jennifer*

          You may not be privy to all of his finances. I really dislike it when people make assumptions about people’s financial status without knowing everything about what’s going on behind the scenes. And all the suggestions people make supposedly to help us all save money aren’t always realistic, are things we are doing already, or wouldn’t save that much money anyway.

          1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

            Well, I am friends with the guy. He’s either a little entitled and flaky, as I described, or he lies to me constantly. If I’m going to make an assumption, it’s going to be that a relatively close friend isn’t spinning a pointless web of lies about his spending and income.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Uh, some of us don’t have the ability to save that much. I’m glad you’re paid enough to accrue that and to be able to spend it with relative ease of mind, but for a big chunk of us, it’s somewhere between a very hard decision and impossible.

    5. Health Insurance Nerd*

      FWIW, I understood the intent of your comment, and I agree with you. There seem to be a lot of people responding who are getting unnecessarily offended/defensive, and if they really read your comment they wouldn’t be responding in the manner that they are!

    6. Letter Writer Here :)*

      Thanks to both of you, and agreed!

      One thing that this situation has taught me is that GoFundMe isn’t just about replacing an emergency fund, which I’d looked at it as before. So, when I first saw the campaign, I thought, “I’m not worthy of this! I have an emergency fund! I’m not destitute!” But a few people who donated helped me look at it differently. GoFundMe can be a way for people to come around and help people they care about in times of need, similar to people dropping off meals. One friend said it gave her the opportunity to feel like she was helping me when there was really no other way to support me at this time.

      I don’t think this is always the case, but looking back to times I’ve donated, I think it’s been similar. Someone I know is having a rough time, and offering a small donation allows me to show them “I’m here for you” while also feeling a bit better myself.

    7. SS Express*

      Just want to let you know that to me, it was clear you were talking about people who could save up an emergency fund but choose not to because they can always fall back on GFM – not those who use GFM because they don’t have another option available. Sorry people were so quick to take offence!

  17. Jennifer*

    I am very sorry about your dog.

    Sigh. This is why I really dislike combining fundraising and work, especially when no one has asked for help. Even people who may need the help may feel awkward accepting it from coworkers – especially such a high amount – and would rather go to friends or family for help. There’s a weird thing with Go Fund Me too where people get overly invested in wanting to know how every penny of the money is spent and judging people about that too. This way you get to make decisions about your dog’s care without feeling like you need anyone’s approval or input.

    I think returning the money is the right call. When my dog has been sick in the past, I just said it was a “personal family emergency” when I needed to leave and left it at that. I do understand that sometimes oversharing happens when we are upset about something, but it does open the door for people, however well-intentioned, trying to “help” when it’s not needed. Sometimes all that’s needed as a thoughtful card or a kind word, not fundraisers.

    Hoping for the best for you and your dog. Give her a snuggle from all of us at AAM.

  18. CMF*

    If you can’t refund the money, you could post an update stating that, letting anyone who’d like their money back to contact you by the end of the month, otherwise you’ll be donating it to help another animal in need at a local rescue. There are plenty of them out there with animals in need of neutering or other assorted health problems.
    The trip would cause pause for some who hear about it – month ago I was happy to donate to a friend’s GoFundMe to help defray costs incurred due to surgery/time off work, started by the recipient himself, only to see him post yesterday that he’d just secured his tickets to Hamilton. On Broadway. I did utter a few whatthehecks. I don’t begrudge him entertainment, but I do question his need now.

  19. Jennifer*

    Another suggestion if the money can’t be refunded for some reason would be to donate it all to animals in need.

  20. CDel*

    If you are considering putting your dog down because you don’t have the money for any possible additional surgeries, then it kind of sounds like you DO need the donations. If the additional surgery doesn’t end up being necessary, you could always donate the GoFundMe money to an animal shelter or fund for others who can’t afford vet bills.

    1. Jennifer*

      In addition to not having the money for additional surgeries, she doesn’t want to put the dog through more treatments that may not work.

      1. valentine*

        OP gets to not accept money from colleagues and clients. We could easily have an opposite letter: “I donated for my colleague/vendor’s dog and they want to give it to an org. How do I ask for my money back without anyone calling me a puppy-hating monster?”

    2. Dust Bunny*

      It’s not the only consideration, though. “don’t know if I want to put her through more of this.”

    3. CDel*

      I understand it’s not the only consideration, but she did mention it as part of the reasoning. It could be the dog would need an additional surgery that wouldn’t be agonizing or prolonging a subpar life, but would still be prohibitively expensive. If she keeps the donations and that’s the case, then she can have the surgery. If the dog doesn’t need the second surgery or it would suffer to much, she can donate the funds to a similarly animal-focused charity.

      1. Jennifer*

        But then when she goes on this vacation, it’s going to be really bad optics. Whenever people accept any kind of charity and then go on vacation, go out to lunch, wear new clothes/shoes, get a haircut, really do anything other than go around in rags barefoot and consume nothing but bread and water, people gossip. Some people think that because they’ve given you money, they have the right to comment on ALL of your financial decisions, no matter how small.

        1. Grapey*

          Well, as you said elsewhere in this thread, “You may not be privy to all of [their] finances”. So LW can just say that.

      2. LawBee*

        Whether or not the dog has the surgery is neither the Letter Writer’s question, nor for you to weigh in on. She asked how to decline the money, that is it.

    4. Crivens!*

      Read the post at the top. Additional surgeries may not be the best answer for the dog.

      1. CDel*

        I understand it’s not the only consideration, but she did mention it as part of the reasoning. It could be the dog would need an additional surgery that wouldn’t be agonizing or prolonging a subpar life, but would still be prohibitively expensive. If she keeps the donations and that’s the case, then she can have the surgery. If the dog doesn’t need the second surgery or it would suffer to much, she can donate the funds to a similarly animal-focused charity.

    5. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      If the additional surgery doesn’t end up being necessary, you could always donate the GoFundMe money to an animal shelter or fund for others who can’t afford vet bills.

      Absolutely not. It would be completely out of line and totally dishonest. The donors, even if they’re animal loves, aren’t giving money for the dog. Do people not get that? They want to help the person who owns the dog because they care about her.

      If they only cared about saving a dog’s life, then they would be donating directly to shelters. They’re not. (Or maybe they are, but in addition to this particular GRM).

      1. Jennifer*

        We get that. I just suggested that as an option if there is some sort of a glitch with GFM when it comes to refunding the money. I don’t know how these things work.

        1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

          I was responding to CDel, who suggested taking the money in either scenario and donating it if the surgery doesn’t happen.

          If it’s a case of GFM somehow going full Y2K and there’s absolutely no way to prevent the money ending up in her bank account…? Nope. Still no. Write some checks to get people their donations back. Nothing would justify simply donating money to a cause the donors didn’t intend to give to.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is perilously close to speculating on the dog’s care, which Alison specifically asked us not to do.

      We don’t know how much pain the dog would be in if the first surgery fails — let alone whether a second would work. Remember that even HUMANS sometimes choose assisted suicide under certain conditions. And dogs have less understanding of the future.

    7. Letter Writer Here :)*

      Yeah, I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I hadn’t thought of it that way. Some people who donated said they did so that money wouldn’t be a deciding factor moving forward, which I appreciate. There are so many things to think about. Hoping the worst is behind us. What a whirlwind!

      1. Margaery Moth*

        Yeah, I haven’t seen many people point out that the GoFundMe might be for the exact purpose of removing money from your decision-making, rather than about thinking you can’t afford it. Some animal lovers can’t handle the idea of a pet being euthanized for money reasons, bottom line. Other comments are saying it’s not about supporting the pup it’s about you, but I disagree. Humans relate to things that happen close to us, and it’s easier for some people to detach from the nebulous issue of “animal welfare” than a coworker’s pet.

        I think it would be fair to wait on the money while providing an update stating that you only need it for future surgeries in the best interest of your dog…if you decide it’s not right to put her through more treatment or that she has a poor prognosis, the money will be donated or refunded. I really hope she gets better on her own and you get to tell everyone she’s doing great!

  21. agmat*

    I think you have just the right idea. Decline graciously, let them know you have it covered (and you really don’t need to go into more detail than that), and let them know if they feel so inclined you would appreciate them donating to a shelter.

    Best wishes to you and your dog! And FWIW, I agree with your treatment plan. I would do the same thing.

  22. IheardItBothWays*

    Many vets have a “help for those who can’t afford the treatment” fund. You can offer to donate the money to that fund at your vet. Please don’t just give to another organization – I have problems with how some orgs handle their money and would not be happy if my money to help pay for a sick animal went to one of those orgs. There is no safe org that noone has an objections to.

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      If I donated to a particular struggle for a particular person, I would be infuriated if they took the money but then donated it somewhere else, no matter how admirable I found that cause.

      This isn’t money to put toward general dog-helping. This is money for LW’s dog specifically and there is no other appropriate use for it.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Technically they would use the donated money to pay for the originally scheduled treatment that they planned on using their own money for, and then use their own money to donate somewhere else. Thankfully this isn’t necessary in this special situation and they can just decline the donated money .

    2. Jennifer*

      I get your point, but that’s why it’s not a good idea to give money to GFM when the person the money is being raised for doesn’t know about it. Find out the details BEFORE you give. I think GFM is a good idea but there are some pitfalls.

  23. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I hate things like this, where people excuse others behavior “because it comes from a place of kindness”. Your co-worker did this without your permission, and while it’s not mean spirited, it’s not kind either (it’s actually a bit controlling). If she wanted to help, she should have reached out to you first. I would decline the GFM, and let the organizer know that while you appreciate the gesture, you’re not going to accept the money (she doesn’t need to know that you can or can’t afford it).

  24. BadWolf*

    Hey OP, I totally understand where you are coming from. And I agree that trying to return the funds with a warm thanks would be best given the circumstances.

    A brief look at GoFundMe looks like refunds are available — especially if you haven’t made a withdrawal. I assume the sticky bit might be that you are the beneficiary and Coworker is the primary?

    If you would like to issue any refunds on your campaign, please reach out to us by clicking the “Contact us” button within the Help Center. Please note that refunds cannot be reversed and will be fully returned to the card the donor used within 3-7 business days. If you have a beneficiary, we will need to ask their permission as well.

  25. ANon.*

    Man, between this post and last week’s “my boss pet-sat my animals and nearly killed them” post, all I want to do is go home and hug my cats.

    OP, I hope your dog gets better!

    1. Letter Writer Here :)*

      Oh my gosh! That letter made me cringe! I travel a lot for work, so my dogs regularly have sitters. Fortunately, I’ve only had great luck with that! But, YIKES!!! I loved Alison’s response to that, but I honestly don’t know how I could face the boss again!

      And thanks for the well-wishes! We’re still waiting on test results, but right now, she’s healing up so well. I think she’s wondering why she’s stuck in a crate and has this ridiculous cone on her head. She’s ready to roll!

      1. Ali G*

        Oh no the cone of shame! My dog had very bad hot spots on his face and had to wear the cone for like 2 weeks. The only one I could fin din his size was bright purple. He was Not Amused.
        Glad to hear she’s doing better! It’s frustrating but a good sign that she’s ready to rock :)

        1. Letter Writer Here :)*

          Haha a bright purple cone! I’m loving this image! Maybe I shouldn’t laugh, but I’m struggling not to giggle at the thought.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you’re ready for another laugh, look around the interwebz for the Elizabethan cone of shame someone made — they camoflaged the standard cone of shame with a pleated starched lace collar straight out of Queen Elizabeth portraits. The dog looked even more disgruntled than the average dog in a cone!

        3. dawbs*

          I still giggle when I remember our late pup, as a young’un, after the first of her (numerous) surgeries in her first cone.
          She could NOT figure out how to go through narrow openings and picturing her confused fuzzy face as she tried to go out the back door is just the best.
          (She was sweet and silly and…10 years later, after her last surgery? same problem. Never figured it out. I got better at opening the doors wide though)

  26. Notme*

    OP, first off very sorry to hear about your dog I hope things turn around. I can kind of relate to this from my experience last year at this time.

    There was a freak incident (seriously long story) that ended with my 3 cats all ending up in emergency surgery for significant wounds and me in the ER to be stitched up. Long story short $18K paid out in just under a month on vet bills alone. (Why yes, we gave our E-Vet their first mass casualty event- I do not recommend, the vet bills start increasing exponentially when additional staff and doctors are called in). On top of this we had a planned vacation 2 weeks from the incident.

    Luckily we had savings that we could cover these expenses with. Not going to lie, it was tough. But I like you would have felt really uncomfortable with the gofundme thing.

    That being said, I think I would have been ok with it (grudgingly) because even if I had a vacation planned, it’s not like that is an easy thing to cancel and in my case it wouldn’t have done any good since I didn’t have travel insurance.

    It sounds like you already got there, but in situations like this I always remember what my mom told me once (was little and we didn’t have a lot of money, which I told to a friend to explain why I couldn’t go to the movies with her and she offered to pay). “Don’t ever ask for charity, but if it’s offered and you need it, don’t turn it down because people don’t offer unless they want to help” (I did end up going to the movies with my friend after I had turned out the offer of her to pay).

    1. Letter Writer Here :)*

      OK, first, I’m so sorry to read about what you went through! What an awful experience! I hope you and they recovered.

      That aside, your comment makes me feel so much better. Thank you. I’m in a similar situation- the vacation was almost entirely paid for well in advance of all this, and I’m doing it as economically as possible. I definitely won’t be posting a ton of photos on social media as I might have done without having had this experience.

      I love that advice from your mom! Thank you for sharing.

  27. Not Me*

    I would let them know you are very grateful, however are not in need of the money and I’d let them decide if they want their individual donations returned to them or donated to a pet charity. Maybe a local shelter or animal hospital.

    I hope your dog gets better soon!!

    1. Paper Librarian*

      I like this suggestion if the OP does not want to accept the money. :)

      I hope your dog recovers. <3

  28. Bike lover*

    I had this exact thing happen to me. Exactly the same: young dog unexpectedly ill , friendly concerned co-workers, a big bill but fortunate savings. My coworkers also set up a go fund me without my permission. I was touched, but refused it with thanks.

    Sorry about your pup, hope she recovers. Nice to hear about a supportive office though.

  29. UndercoverLibrarian*

    OP, it sounds like you’ve come to a solution that works well for you, but I just wanted to say that you seem like a thoughtful, kind person with a lot of integrity and a wonderful heart. I know you’ve said you’re lucky in regards to your coworkers, but they’re equally lucky in you! I hope your pup has a textbook perfect recovery, and you can enjoy your well deserved trip knowing that she’s happy and healthy.

    1. Letter Writer Here :)*

      This put a huge smile on my face. Thank you for taking the time to encourage me! :D

      1. Khlovia*

        See, there’s sort of a circular cause-effect thing going on here. Your co-workers would not be throwing money at you if they did not feel they had GOOD REASON to want YOU to be okay as well as your doggie.

        I think you should pat your co-workers on the head saying “Who’s a good colleague! You are, yes you are!” and thank your doggie profusely for her kindness and helpfulness to you. Or vice versa. Or both.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I rarely *literally* laugh out loud beyond snorts & chuckles — but this one was a belly laugh that means you win the internet today.

  30. this way, that way*

    Consider donating the money to your vets office for the services of someone who can’t afford it. I wasn’t aware that our vet done this until last year we had a new puppy and were in and out for shots for a few weeks and learned that our vet has quite a few clients that are not as well off financially and they allow them to pay monthly on even regular yearly exams. They allowed us to donate to pay off some of the bills.

  31. A New Commenter*

    I’m wondering how long you can leave the money “in the kitty” so to speak, because if I’m reading the letter correctly it sounds like additional surgery is still an option for the dog, and that the additional surgery (if needed) would place a financial burden on OP that they cannot handle (and the dog would need to be put down).

    I can’t quite tell whether the OP would 100% totally reject the idea of the additional surgery due to the suffering the dog is going through. If so, that would be understandable.

    However, if the additional surgery does become an option OP wants to pursue, would it be possible to take a “wait and see” approach to determine whether that additional money (beyond the $5,000) needs to be spent? If so, OP might want to take advantage of the GFM. How long will it be before they know? If it’s only a matter of a few weeks or a month, perhaps it’s possible to defer the decision?

  32. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I don’t donate to people in emergencies because I think that they cannot handle the expense, I donate for the cause because nobody should need to take the hit, “affordable” or not. So to be honest, I roll my eyes a bit at the idea that we are assuming anything about someone’s financial situation, the assumptions are just piling up and that’s not a great look!

    It’s like how if someone is having something bad happening, you ask if you can help. You bring them meals, etc. It’s not because they cannot afford to order a pizza or find another way to feed themselves. It’s people showing they care. My coworkers pull together for each other if someone is going through any issues because we want to show we care, some people show that with a hug, some with a card, some with something with cash value or cash itself.

    But by all means, when you don’t want assistance, it’s fine to say “thank you but I don’t feel like I can accept this gift.” Because I know that can come with what feels like an emotional attachment, like you’re now indebted to them.

    I wish this had some kind of trigger warning on it. I’m really rattled by the fact that someone would sooner put down a dog than accept money people are gathering for them. The “I can afford 5000 but anything more, meh and no don’t crowd source” is gross feeling.

    1. Crivens!*

      “I’m really rattled by the fact that someone would sooner put down a dog than accept money people are gathering for them. The “I can afford 5000 but anything more, meh and no don’t crowd source” is gross feeling.”

      Luckily that’s not what the OP said!

    2. Not A Manager*

      You know, moral people of good will can have different intuitions about what’s appropriate to spend on an animal’s medical care. Even if what you say about the OP’s position were completely accurate – which it’s not – if her position were “I love my pet but I’m not going to spend $20,000 on his care no matter where that comes from, and if you want to donate money how about potable water in emerging nations. Or how about potable water in our own nation, thanks” that would not be an immoral or unethical position to take.

      And no, “I can’t afford more medical care AND I don’t want to prolong my dog’s misery” does not require a trigger warning.

    3. Jennifer*

      “It’s like how if someone is having something bad happening, you ask if you can help. You bring them meals, etc. It’s not because they cannot afford to order a pizza or find another way to feed themselves. It’s people showing they care. My coworkers pull together for each other if someone is going through any issues because we want to show we care, some people show that with a hug, some with a card, some with something with cash value or cash itself.”

      This I agree with 100%. You don’t always have to fundraise and it doesn’t always have to be a group thing. People can individually and privately ask if they can be of assistance, or give a card, hug, etc.

      As far as her choices regarding her dog’s care – I think you’re misinterpreting this a bit. $2,000 probably won’t be enough to cover more surgeries, if they are needed, hopefully, they won’t be. And even if she does have the money, she is concerned about letting the dog continue to suffer and have a poor quality of life.

      1. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

        Yeah, $2000 might be really helpful for another $5000 surgery, but if further treatment and care adds up to something like $10,000, $2000 might not even register as particularly useful (especially if chances of full recovery aren’t more or less guaranteed). And like Jennifer says, this isn’t even taking into consideration the dog’s long-term quality of life.

    4. Spargle*

      I was with you up until the last paragraph. That wasn’t what she said, and it grossly minimizes the emotional labor she put into this decision – none of which she was required to share with us to make you feel better about her choice.

    5. SarahTheEntwife*

      Food for someone going through a tough time is about tangible care, yes, but I always thought it was also about the fact that when you’re going through a crisis, it’s often actually harder to get together the energy and focus to cook or remember to eat. Yes, if I didn’t bring over a casserole they wouldn’t starve, but it’s helping make the situation slightly less horrible.

  33. Fern*

    OP I don’t have advice, just that I’m thinking about you and your dog and I hope she makes a quick recovery.

  34. Jessica*

    I think your initial instinct was the right one. I’m sympathetic to people in genuine need (and in the healthcare hellscape of the US, that could be almost anyone at any time), but as long as I can pay my own way, I don’t plan to beg. I would be ashamed to beg when others are in much greater need, and I would be mortified to find that anyone else had started a charity campaign on my behalf. I think the internet makes it somehow feel different to people, but would you ever in the world have gone up to all your friends and coworkers and said “Hey, you know Fido has been sick, and the vet bill is really huge… can you spare ten bucks?” Think about why you wouldn’t have done that and why you’re doing it now.
    Others have argued the point of view that people just want to show you some kindness at this difficult time. While that may be, there’s a reason that personal kindness between friends is not traditionally expressed by cash.
    Even if you disagree with me, here’s a warning: money causes weirdness. I have seen it. Once people are asked to give you charity, they tend to get weirdly judgmental ever after about your financial and life choices. It happens on the larger social scale and it happens individually too. Some of the people who reached into their wallets for poor you and your poor sick dog even though they have their own problems and bills are going to feel very critical (whether they ever express it to you or not) when they see you going on this posh vacation, or doing any of many other ordinary things.
    Best wishes for your dog’s recovery.

    1. PlainJane*

      +1. This is exactly how I feel. I’m not judging other people’s choices to start a GFM (unless it’s for something really frivolous, then yeah, I’m probably going to judge you, even though I shouldn’t), but you shouldn’t start one for someone else without their approval.

  35. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Phew, this is a hard one.

    I say this with two (competing) biases: 1) an unreasonable love for my dog and overwhelming sympathy for pet owners trying to do the right thing for their animals, and 2) a deep frustration with GoFundMe campaigns (and that whole industry).

    One thing I’ll say that I’m not sure has been addressed here: If it’s not already clear that you were not involved with the campaign, I strongly encourage you to figure out a way to make that clear (even if you decide to keep the money, which from your update it sounds like you might be leaning toward).

    As has been covered extensively here, asking for money at work is inappropriate (especially for a non-emergency situation, like this). In your shoes, I would want to make sure that my colleagues who were asked to contribute knew that it was done without my consent.

  36. Bowserkitty*

    I don’t know if this was already recommended (or if the OP has already acted), but what if you gave the existing donations to a shelter? I guess this could then make people upset that you weren’t personally using their own money…but….devil’s advocate aside, I think it would be a nice gesture.

    I hope your doggo pulls through. This can’t be easy. <3

  37. Miranda*

    Hey OP I hope you are still reading replies!

    A similar thing happened to my mother a couple of years ago after Hurricane Harvey here in Houston. Unbeknownst to her, one of our family members started a GoFundMe to help us rebuild our house. My mother felt very guilty about it and said we weren’t that bad off (we were, we lost our house). She didn’t want the money, and I told her not to feel bad about it. What my mother did instead was use the money like a loan. She repaid it a few months later and sent hand-written thank you letters to everyone with their donation payback.

    I really didn’t feel like she needed to do that, but she felt better about it and her conscience was at ease.

  38. Sled dog mama*

    OP from your replies here you seem to have a pretty good handle on the situation. I’ve recently been in a similar situation with my almost 9 year old dog so I just wanted to say that you’re not the only one to put the animal’s quality of life tops in your consideration.
    In regards to the GFM… I have very mixed feelings about them, but do find the inclusion of mostly coworkers to be troubling.
    When my daughter passed away 3years ago our church offered to help with her medical bills (ER plus ICU stay). We were very able to afford the bills by pulling from savings, and we also felt awkward accepting financial help when we were more used to helping others. We finally realized three things, the people wanting to help us were some of those we had helped, these people felt our pain keenly and this was the only way they felt they had any power to help alleviate the pain, helping others and in turn being helped is part of being a community. Whatever you decide will be the right thing for you, your community and your pup.

  39. atgo*

    So sorry about your dog! I hope she pulls through and you two have lots of fun in the future.

    One thought, if you’re uncomfortable declining or the organizer is pushy about it, would be to donate that money directly to a charity that supports other folks who can’t pay their vet bills such as Paws 4 A Cure, The Pet Fund, The Mosby Foundation, etc.

    Best of luck to you and your pooch!

  40. Perpal*

    I see by the updates LW you’ve come around to being ok with the gofundme; it’s definitely OK to take it and use it to help take care of your dog! If things were given in good faith and the sums aren’t crazy, and these are your friends/peers etc (“gift up” philosophy and all that – might be a little different if you were the CEO I’d say maybe you should decline it if it’s all underlings donating because that can get weird); don’t feel bad about taking it in the spirit it was offered.

  41. Mumu*

    I missed the word “dog” and thought this was about a 2 year old child. When I got to the part about putting her down, I had a moment of true horror before I realized I must have misread something.

    Best of luck to you and your pup!

  42. selena81*

    …Kind people aren’t going to be offended by this — they’re going to appreciate your integrity and be glad you’re covered. It’s true that it’s possible that the person who organized the GoFundMe without checking with you might be a little embarrassed — but assuming she’s a generally reasonable person, it won’t be like “how dare Jane reject my help!” It’ll just be “whoops, I should have checked.” And you can help soften it by making a point of thanking her directly for her instinct to help….

    Yeah, kind people won’t be offended by someone being self-reliable.
    Whereas assholes will be offended at losing a chance to control/judge your life.

    On the other hand being part of a community also means accepting help: it’s not healthy to be a permanent free-loader, it’s also not healthy to put yourself in a position where everyone needs to be gratefull to you while you don’t hold any debts-of-gratitude whatsoever.

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