WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba dog rescue found a litter of puppies living in a hole at a dump in a northern community – a situation the rescue said may become more common due to the pandemic.

On Friday, a team from Manitoba Underdogs Rescue was doing some work in one of its partner communities in northern Manitoba, when they were told about some puppies seen around the local dump.

The team went to investigate, and right away found two puppies running around. They followed the pair of puppies to a small hole in the ground. The rescue said they had to dig into the ground to get the puppies.

"That is where we found not only two puppies, but we looked inside and you could see about four puppies, and by the time we were done it actually ended up being 10 puppies that had been hiding down in this hole," Meg Norton, a foster coordinator for Manitoba Underdogs Rescue, told CTV News.

Manitoba Underdogs Rescue

(Submitted: Manitoba Underdogs Rescue)

The litter of puppies – since dubbed "The Miners," were brought back to Winnipeg and are now staying with a foster family.

"They are doing really well. They are happy, they are starting to play with toys. They are having the best time," Norton said. "We will make sure they are all medically healthy and then we will put them up for adoption."

Manitoba Underdogs Rescue

(Submitted: Manitoba Underdogs Rescue)

Norton said the puppies are believed to have been born at the dump from a pack of feral dogs in the area.

"This often happens when a dog population grows within a community that people are unable to care for them," Norton said. "In communities like the ones we work in, they don't have the resources to provide spay and neutering to keep the population of dogs to a manageable level."

It is a situation Norton said has been getting worse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the spay and neuter programs provided by dog rescues in these communities have been impacted by lockdowns and travel restrictions.

"We are seeing the dog overpopulation grow to very unmanageable levels in a lot of areas and this is an example of that," Norton said.

She said this year, Manitoba Underdogs Rescue has seen the highest number of dogs, with more than 100 in care.

She said the rescue is calling on donors to help cover the cost of caring for the puppies and providing the spay and neuter programs.

"As much as rescuing puppies out of the hole is very important to us, we want to do our best of our capabilities to lessen the chances of that through spay and neutering initiatives in communities like this."

Norton said Manitoba Underdogs Rescue plans to return to the dump to try to rescue the puppies' mother. She said this will require specialized equipment as the mother has probably never been around humans.