An animal charity says it had 370 reports of abandoned animals last year including a dog with an "enormous" tumour - and its expecting a rise this summer.

A dog called Martha was found in a village near High Beech, Epping last June by a member of the public.

She was taken to the RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre in Potters Bar where staff found that the dog had a tumour which covered most of her belly.

After staff took her to the a nearby vet it was decided that surgery was essential.

Vets thought Martha was around eight-years-old though she was not microchipped and was not wearing a collar. When the tumour was successfully removed it weighed three pounds and five ounces.

Centre manager, Anna White decided to foster Martha. But Anna said Martha sadly died last Autumn.

Anna said: "All the staff at RSPCA Southridge fell in love with her, including me. She was the sweetest dog I had ever known.

"I was realistic about the prospect of finding a suitable home for an older dog, who may potentially suffer a relapse from the tumour, so I decided to foster her myself as we had formed a strong bond.

"Martha passed away peacefully last autumn, but I am content knowing my family and I gave her the best few months of her life, surrounded by love, affection, treats and fun."

As a result of receiving 370 reports of dumped animals in Essex last summer the RSPCA said it is bracing itself to see another rise in the coming months especially as lockdown restrictions ease.

Head of the RSPCA's animal rescue teams Dermot Murphy said: "During lockdown we've seen pets become a source of comfort and support for people and it appears many people have taken on new animals.

"Fortunately, during this time we've dealt with fewer abandoned pets, however, we are worried that as lockdown eases, people will return to work, go on holidays or struggle financially so we will be facing a massive surge of animal abandonment.

"Sadly summer tends to bring with it a surge in abandoned animals.

"We don't know why but it may be a combination of the the warmer weather making people feel less guilt about dumping a pet to fend for themselves and people going away on holiday so they abandon pets instead of arranging care for them."

The charity has now launched an emergency appeal to continue its rescue work.