HALESOWEN-based volunteers who have rescued 200 dogs in two years fear a surge of abandoned pets when the latest Covid restrictions are lifted.

Monarch's Mutts have already seen one rush at the end of the last lockdown, and fear things will be even worse if and when things get back to some kind or normal after this winter.

The group of around 60 volunteers from all over Dudley and further afield is led by sisters Lucy and Kate Anthill who offer a’ foster service’ for unwanted, abandoned, stray or neglected dogs.

Around 15 volunteers can take up to about 20 dogs at any time and look after them for up to six months while they await ‘adoption’ by new owners.

Their 200th rescue coincided with an 8-mile sponsored walk in the Halesowen and Romsley areas which should raise more than £1,000 to help with ongoing costs, like the £2-3,000 a month vets bills or the feeding costs.

Covid has hit the group – which is currently awaiting registration as a charity – because events where they hold stalls have been cancelled.

And now they are gearing up to be ‘overwhelmed’ with dogs needing to be rescued after the latest lockdowns.

“We were very quiet during the lockdown but on the weekend the pubs and campsites re-opened we had a surge,” said Lucy, of Lapal.

“And we think it could be worse next time.

“What normally happens is that people get dogs spontaneously and don’t think it through.

“They don’t think of practical things like the finances or what happens when they go back to work. Dogs can get separation anxiety and that affects their behaviour.

“January is normally a busy time for us. Plus puppies are cute, but after a year or so, when they become adolescent, they change.

“We worry that all of this could come together at the end of Covid and we will be overwhelmed with dogs needing support.”

The group are currently holding online auctions and sales to try to raise money they need.

If you wish to help, visit their Facebook page for details.