The mystery of Scotland's Overtoun 'dog suicide' bridge which has claimed the lives of over 600 pooches

The mystery of Scotland's Overtoun 'dog suicide' bridge which has claimed the lives of over 600 pooches
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Set foot in Scotland and you can be assured of seeing picturesque forests, quaint castles, ruins of a more romantic era and beautiful bridges. Speaking of bridges, the Overtoun Bridge is a picturesque piece of 19th-century architecture and can provide you with excellent photography shots but whatever you do, don't take your dog for a walk for there. 

No, it's not because dogs are not allowed to walk on bridges in Southern Scotland but because this particular bridge has over the years earned a reputation for being a doggie 'suicide' bridge. An estimate of about 600 dogs have jumped off from this bridge. No particular reason has been found as to why the ancient structure lures dogs to jump off its edges. 


About 50 dogs have been reported to have died in the act. The Overtoun bridge is situated near the village of Milton, near Dumbarton, Scotland. Nearby is the Overtoun House which has a history of about 160 years, the estate has served as a movie set, a maternity hospital and a place of recovery for Allied soldiers during WWII. The house's former occupants in no way describe what could be the possible reason for dogs to be acting so strange around the bridge but then an old haunted house nearby does make for a good explanation.

According to a report by Daily Record, the studies show that the reports of these dog-jumping phenomenon have been dated all the way back to 1950s. Leaping off the bridge would mean falling about 50 feet below into a waterfall. 

Many people have studied the sensation, there are multiple patterns emerged, that dogs mostly jump from the same side of the bridge, in clear weather, and they are often breeds with long snouts, like German Shepherds and Scottish Terriers.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has sent representatives to look into the matter but they were baffled by the strange behavior from the animals. Canine psychologist Dr David Sands is one among the many who traveled to Dumbarton to examine the bridge, including sight, smell and sound factors.

One theory was that the potent odor from male mink urine from under the bridge was something that compelled the dogs to jump. As the 'suicides' take place on dry days when the scent would have been at its strongest, the theory seems plausible. 

But the author of the book 'Baron of Rainbow Bridge: Overtoun's Death Leaping Dog Mystery Unravelled' disagrees with the theory. He instead offers a paranormal explanation to the phenom. He says Overtoun is historically a hive of supernatural activity such as fairies, spirits, earth energies and ghosts, which supersensitive dogs are picking up at the bridge. Owens says Overtoun's most famous White Lady ghost stalks Overtoun Bridge and believes she is the cause of the unexplained dog leaping mystery.

Another man who disagreed with the mink theory was a local hunter John Joyce who has lived in the area for 50 years and he said in 2014 that "There is no mink around here. I can tell you that with absolute certainty."


One lucky dog who survived the death was three-year-old Cassie, who jumped from the Overtoun bridge in 2014. Her owner Alice Trevorrow spoke to the Daily Record then, she said, "We had just got out of the car and Cassie immediately made her way to the bridge.

"She loves her ball and is normally looking at me waiting for it so it was very uncharacteristic. She turned her head, looked up and did this massive leap. I will never forget the awful whine she made as she jumped over."

Cassie, however, survived the fall and spent six days in a hospital.

There is more to the feeling of the being compelled to jump off this particular bridge. Not only dogs but even humans have reported feeling the odd urge to throw themselves off the bridge. Religious and philosophy teacher Paul Owens told the Sun: "I was standing there two years ago when I felt a firm, hard prod that felt like a finger. "Something or someone was trying to push me over the bridge too, just like the dogs."

In 1994 Kevin Moy threw his baby son to his death and later tried to kill himself at the same spot, it was reported. A sign now warns dog owners of the "dangerous bridge" reading: "Please keep your dogs on a lead."

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