My Friend Is a Spendthrift With a Sick Dog. Should I Give to Her GoFundMe?

For the past decade, I’ve been involved in an animal-rescue group as a volunteer foster to dogs in need. I have developed a friendship with a group of women, all of whom have taken in difficult-to-place foster dogs. One woman ended up adopting a dog that had behavioral issues she was willing to work on and that had tumors, which had been removed by the animal-rescue group.

It has now been almost two years since the woman adopted this dog, and the tumors are back. The cost to test and remove the tumors starts at around $2,000. The woman is saying she is broke and doesn’t know whether she should proceed. She has been in debt before and doesn’t want to go in debt again. One of the other friends in the group decided to start a GoFundMe to help cover these costs.

This dog adopter is very reckless with her finances. She works a decent job and makes ends meet but spends as if she’s in a much higher income bracket. For example, she has gone to see a very prominent rock band multiple times last year and had front-row seats for each show. She had already seen this band upward of 25 times in her life. When she forgot her winter jacket on a recent trip, she wisely went to a thrift store and bought a coat. But then she decided it wasn’t good enough and went out and bought a brand-new coat. And then got home and liked that coat so much she bought a second one — new. On our monthly dinner outing with the friend group, she orders three cocktails, when everybody else just orders one.

All this is to say that, knowing the dog has had issues with tumors, she has failed to put aside any sort of emergency fund. Even without the tumors, I think people should have an emergency fund to cover costs for their dogs. Dogs are family, and we owe it to them to provide reasonable amounts of care. I enjoy life but live beneath my means. I see local bands, I watch for sales, buy used when possible, etc.

I have to date not contributed to the GoFundMe campaign, although I can easily afford to. She has made her choices, and I think that if she needs to go into debt and put this on a credit card, that’s a direct result of her reckless spending and therefore her problem.

Why do I feel guilty? — Name Withheld

From the Ethicist:

Your detailed anatomizing of your friend’s financial peccadilloes makes it sound as if what’s at stake here is whether you indulge her bad life choices. When you contrast her recklessness with your frugality, your disapproval radiates from your words like heat from a waffle iron. She is, to your mind, among the undeserving poor, because her poverty is chosen, not imposed upon her.

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