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Fears for Romford greyhounds as ‘massive fireworks’ display due same time as races

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 October 2013

Nervous dogs will not race on the night
 Picture: Press Association/Joe Giddens

Nervous dogs will not race on the night Picture: Press Association/Joe Giddens

EMPICS Sport

Romford greyhounds will be kept in sound-proof kennels and soothed with calming music ahead of November 1 when races will clash with the borough’s biggest firework display just across the road.

Thousands of revellers are due at the annual Bonfire Night event at Romford and Gidea Park Rugby Club, in Crow Lane, Romford – billed as a “massive fireworks display”.

But the pyrotechnics, which are known to distress dogs, are due around the same time as the Friday races at Romford Greyhound Stadium, almost directly opposite, in London Road, Romford.

Worried resident Christopher Jones, from Ilford, questioned how the clash has been allowed.

He said: “The loud bangs and flashing of lights will cause distress to the greyhounds.”

But racing manager, Peter O’Dowd, insisted the dogs’ welfare was “paramount”.

“It’s unfortunate [the events] are on at the same time but it’s something we’ve had to deal with for a few years,” he said. “We take all the precautions we can this time of year and we prepare ourselves as best we can.

“All trainers have been informed and any nervous dogs will be removed from the races.

“Dogs will be kept in a sound-proof kennel with music but we will immediately withdraw a dog if they get spooked at the start line.

“Once the dog is chasing the hare and they’re in racing mode they are not aware of any noise.”

The huge fireworks event - which when started three years ago was the first organised display in the borough since the 1980s - has caused controversy in the past.

The venue nearly lost its license when more than 3,000 people descended on the grounds in 2010 causing crowd and parking chaos in and around the club.

This year, as well as the display, there will be an Amy Winehouse tribute act, appearances from Towie cast members and a live band in the clubhouse.

For more info go to www.pitchero.com/clubs/romfordgideapark/

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