Scotland’s Overtoun Bridge Is a Suicide Hotspot for Dogs…and No One Knows Why

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There is a bridge in Scotland of of which anywhere from 300 to 600 dogs have jumped – some 50 or more to their deaths. So many dogs have leapt off the structure that the site has earned the nickname “Dog Suicide Bridge.”

The Overtoun property has been around since 1859 and was originally acquired by James White, a lawyer-turned-chemical manufacturer. He built the house, and his son, John White, later hired Henry Milner to to design a bridge to join their property to Garshake.

The Overtoun Bridge still stands today, an extension of the driveway to the Overtoun House. It was completed in 1895 and has almost always been a popular spot with pedestrians due to its ornate design and lush surrounding greenery.

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Since the 1960s, though, dog-walkers have been reporting strange behavior on the part of their canine companions – that they’re becoming “possessed” and racing to jump off the bridge. They seem desperate to make the leap, too, with some reports detailing dogs climbing up the wall first and others returning for a second jump after surviving the first.

Lottie MacKinnon says her border collie, Bonnie, changed in the blink of an eye.

“Something overcame Bonnie as soon as we approached the bridge. At first she froze, but then she became possessed by a strange energy and ran and jumped right off the parapet.”

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The dog survived.

David and Louise McPhail’s Labrador Sophie jumped, too, and they report a similar experience.

“I started shouting to David ‘Sophie’s jumped off the bridge, she’s jumped off the bridge!’ It just happened so fast, seconds.”

Locals have called in the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but investigators found no clear reason for the strange phenomenon.

Which, of course, led to speculation that something paranormal could be afoot, according to Alastair Dutton, a local taxi driver.

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“People in Dumbarton are very superstitious. We grew up playing in the Overtoun grounds, and we believe in ghosts here because we’ve all seen or felt spirits up here.”

If you’re looking for a more reasonable (or at least, provable) explanation, you might go away disappointed, though.

Researchers and animal experts believe that the phenomenon is a combination of the strong scents given off by the animals below and the fact that dogs see the world through a different lens than humans. The theory is that a dog’s strong sense of smell leads them to want to explore the scents below and their different perspective and relatively poor eyesight lead them to jump, not realizing they’re doing so from a potentially mortal height.

“Their world is different than ours,” animal expert Dr. Sands. “We’re elevated, on the average five-foot. So we got a much greater perspective of the environment. The dogs have a very low level perspective.”

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He does also address the question of why this particular bridge draws dogs to jump, musing that perhaps the bridge “has this unique recipe of wildlife, of structure, of the number of dogs that are crossing it.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying it. If you want my 2 cents, infrasound is likely at play. If it can cause feelings of anxiety, fear, dread, and depression in people, I figure it can do the same to dogs.

My theory is that sometime in the 60s something that puts out low frequency sound was built nearby and it’s been driving the dogs mad ever since.

What do you think?