Overtoun Bridge near Dumbarton, Scotland has attracted much international media attention after years of unfortunate and often inexplicable events. The bridge has been the site of a murder and an attempted suicide. But it is the canine deaths which have inspired most of the media coverage. Hundreds of dogs have leapt from the bridge to their deaths over the years and nobody knows why!
The behaviour of the dogs has been baffling everyone in the area for decades. The picturesque bridge spans the Overtoun Burn. It is a listed structure and was constructed in 1895 to provide access for carriages to Overtoun House. A peaceful and seemingly benign place, the bridge appears to pose no threat to animals and yet dogs keep leaping to their deaths. Last year 5 dogs perished after jumping off of the bridge.
Dog Suicide Bridge
The bridge has been dubbed “dog suicide bridge” but suicide is an unlikely reason for the tragedies. Signs have now been erected at each end of the bridge warning dog owners to keep their pooches on a lead as they cross.
Is a Ghost Scaring the Dogs?
All of the animals which have perished have been long-nosed breeds such as Labradors, retrievers, spaniels and pointers. They have mostly jumped from the same spot between two parapets and in sunny weather. With no clear reason for their actions having emerged, locals have long been suggesting that the ghost of Lady Overtoun is to blame!
The ghost of Lady Overtoun, who died in 1931, is said to roam the grounds of Overtoun House. She was overcome with grief after her husband died in 1908 and was given to roaming over the bridge. It is though that her spirit may now be lingering around the bridge and spooking the dogs. She is also said to have been seen at the windows of Overtoun House.
Cassie the Springer Spaniel
Is there something sinister going on at Overtoun Bridge? Alice Trevorrow thinks so after her springer spaniel Cassie leapt off the bridge and fell 50 feet in 2015. The dog survived her ordeal but Alice cannot think of any reason why her dog would have jumped other than a supernatural event. The behaviour was completely out of character.
Testing the Bridge
In an attempt to solve the mystery, canine psychologist Dr David Sands was dispatched to Dumbarton to try to view the bridge, including the sensation of crossing it, from an animal’s point of view. He decided to take a dog with him and the pooch chosen was Hendrix who was one of the dogs which had previously leapt from the bridge and survived.
A Repeat Performance for Hendrix
The dog walked happily across the bridge until towards the end on the right-hand side she suddenly became tense. Hendrix was now an elderly dog and so could not jump but something had clearly piqued her interest. Dr Sands concluded that one of her primary senses had been stimulated and to the extent that she felt a desperate need to investigate.
Sight, Sound or Smell?
The dog couldn’t see below the bridge and so it must have been either a smell or a sound which caught her attention. Experts conducted tests and established that there were no sounds which could have caused the behaviour. It was concluded that dogs were smelling something when on the bridge. Dr Sands tested dogs with different smells and concluded that, of the odours which they may sense near the bridge, it was the smell of mink which they were attracted to most.
Could mink beneath the bridge really be the cause of the strange phenomenon? The mystery continues.