As dog attacks hit newspaper headlines up and down the country at an alarming rate, we look back at some of the hero canines who have made a positive impact on the local community.

Southampton Police welcomed dogs into their team in 1953 with the acquisition of Mountbrowne Quaker from Surrey Police and the assignment of PC Jack Ryles as the first police dog handler.

The introduction of a second dog, named Mountbrowne Wendy, took place the subsequent year, and by 1966, the canine unit had expanded to include four members.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War one of the south’s chief constables said: “A good dog with a night duty man is as sound a proposition as you can get.

“The dog hears what the constable does not, gives him notice of anyone in the vicinity, guards his master’s bicycle to the death, and remains mute unless roused. He is easily trained and will go home when told to do so with a message in his collar.”

Daily Echo: Police dog wendy - retired. December 21, 1963.

During the winter of 1964, four German shepherd dogs named Ace, Rocky, Shadow, and Luna were introduced at Southampton docks. Their duties involved keeping a watchful eye on the quayside as well as safeguarding ships and warehouses from potential threats.

Responsible for handling the canine companions were PCs Thomas Murphy, Raymond Nias, Donald Hill and Leonard Boughton, all members of the former British Transport Police.

After serving eight years, Chance retired, but not before he and PC Murphy excelled in a national competition, winning the trophy so frequently that they were eventually allowed to keep it permanently.

Making headlines in the mid-1970s, Hampshire police introduced Beau, the very first riesen schnauzer to join a British law enforcement team. Known as "the dog with the golden bite," Beau, who was handled by PC Roy Allen, received a unique gold tooth to replace a broken canine tooth.

In a remarkable event back in February 1961, the exceptional tracking abilities of police dogs were put to the test when infamous escape artist, William "Foxy" Fowler, broke free from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight.

Daily Echo: Police dogs on the docks. Jan 9,  1964.

Known for his knack for eluding law enforcement, "Foxy" had been a frequent headline-maker for his daring prison escapes, such as the one from Dartmoor in 1957 where he evaded capture for close to a month.

At the core of his mischievous exploits, Fowler was a hapless petty criminal entangled in a continual cycle of being apprehended due to his recurrent run-ins with the law.

However, he had a knack for outwitting authorities and sparking public intrigue.

Fowler's notoriety grew through his antics that left law enforcement scratching their heads and the community entertained with tales of his escapades.

Cartoonists found a wealth of material in depicting the ineptitude of those trying to capture the slippery trickster.

Daily Echo: Police tracking the prisoner “Foxy’’ Fowler in February 1961. It was Flash, the dog on the

When “Foxy’’ managed to make a dash for freedom from Parkhurst Prison, he was only recaptured after Flash the police dog tracked him down.

Altogether Fowler made five jail breaks between the 1950s and 1960s, but in 1975 he was found dead, at the age of 52, after falling and hitting his head on a rock near Hastings in Sussex.

In the present day, the canine units deployed by law enforcement in Hampshire serve a multitude of functions. These include detecting illicit substances and dangerous materials, assisting in search and rescue operations, managing crowds, apprehending suspects, and uncovering cash trafficked by criminals.

In remarkable displays of bravery, dogs have showcased their heroism in numerous accounts through the years.

One extraordinary instance involved a loyal canine who came to the rescue of its owner a decade ago during a moment of crisis.

Daily Echo: John Hockaday with wife Doreen and terrier Charlie.

Charlie, a two-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, raised the alarm in February 2014, when John Hockaday, 52, collapsed.

Paramedics said that if Mr Hockaday – who is blind and diabetic – had been lying on the floor for another five minutes, he would have died.

The dog “doesn’t usually bark” and “never howls” but its natural instinct kicked in when it saw its diabetic owner fall in the living room.

He rushed over to Mr Hockaday before lying across his body – which had dropped in temperature from its normal 36 degrees celsius to just 30.

The quick-thinking canine licked his face, howled and barked gaining the attention of Mr Hockaday’s 24-year-old son Clint who was walking past their home in Southampton.

And that certainly wasn't the first time a dog came to the rescue in Southampton.

Less than a year ago a scent-trained pooch became the unlikely hero after a distraught pet owner lost his four-legged friend.

Daily Echo: Kev Mitchell with Bomber the tortoise and Nora the Manchester Terrier.

Kev Mitchell's pet tortoise had been missing on Southampton Common for hours but was reunited with its owner, thanks to the super-nosed Manchester Terrier.

Trying to find Bomber, aged three, was like finding a needle in a haystack for the 50-year-old who had taken his reptilian friend for his regular outdoor walk on June 23, 2023.

Kev would often take Bomber to the common but on this occasion he disappeared in the long grass.

Kev spent several stress-filled hours trying to find him and after a sleepless night, he returned to the park at 5:30am on Saturday morning to resume the search.

After four hours of no success, it looked as though all hope was lost - until dog walker Chris Bynam, 62, and her five-year-old Manchester Terrier, Nora, spotted Kev in the park and offered to help, as Nora had previously been scent trained.

Nora sniffed a box that Kev had brought with him to track the tortoise’s scent.

Kev had been looking in a particular circle and Nora went outside of that area and across the path. After five minutes, Nora stopped in a particular spot, and then Kev went over and just dropped to his knees in tears.

Bomber had been found.

But some dogs are neither good nor bad - they're just mischievous - like the one that started a large-scale blaze.

Daily Echo: The new riesen schnauzer with Hampshire Police.

it was an incident which culminated in one of Southampton’s busiest streets catching fire – all because a little black dog ran under a lorry.

The chain of events, which was reported in the Daily Echo on December 23, 1933, began when the unnamed dog ran beneath the lorry and into the path of the taxi at the bottom of Broadlands Road.

As the taxi pulled up the lorry ran into the taxi, puncturing the taxi’s fuel tank and spilling ten gallons of fuel onto the road.

Sparks from passing trams then ignited the petrol, spreading flames for a distance of up to 25 yards.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt - including the mischievous dog.