Andrew Yang Defends Giving Up His Dog After Backlash to National Pet Day Post: 'That Still Hurts'
Andrew Yang is defending his family's decision to rehome their dog.
On Sunday, the New York City mayoral candidate tweeted photos of his former dog, named Grizzly, for National Pet Day. He explained that they had given Grizzly away after one of his sons had developed an allergy to him.
"On #NationalPetsDay celebrating our dog Grizzly who we raised as a puppy but had to give away because one of our boys became allergic to him. Miss you Grizz!" Yang tweeted.
The former presidential candidate received criticism from some on social media for rehoming the animal. On Monday, during a press conference, Yang became emotional as he explained to reporters why he couldn't keep Grizzly.
"That still hurts," he said of giving away the dog during a press conference on Monday, a video of which was shared by the New York Post.
Yang said he was initially "in denial" that the dog was the cause of his eldest son Christopher's severe allergies.
"There was one night when Christopher had a respiratory attack..." he said, tearing up. "And that's when I knew we had to give our dog away."
Grizzly now lives with close friends of the family in California "who pamper him probably more than me and Evelyn did," Yang said.
Explaining why he chose to post about the dog even though he's no longer with their family, Yang said Grizzly is "still our pet in our hearts."
"I didn't really think anything of it," he said. "Grizzly meant the world to me and the family."
Replying to her husband's original National Pet Day tweet, Evelyn Yang wrote that Grizzly is "a happy beach dog now but he'll always be our dog even though he doesn't live with us!"
"Whenever we visit, grizz always gives me a kiss first and then proceeds to hound Andrew non-stop to play," she added, sharing a photo of Grizzly soaking up the sun.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
In 2019, Yang reunited with Grizzly. He shared a photo from the moment on Twitter.
In a follow up tweet, Yang posted a video of the pup barking at his feet and jumping on his leg as he saw his former owner again.
"Reuniting with Grizzly!" Yang wrote at the time. "We raised him as a puppy and had to give him up because of our son's allergies. Best dog ever. Miss you Grizz."