Overtoun Bridge: Why Have So Many Dogs Killed Themselves From The Top Of This Scottish Landmark?

There is a bridge in Scotland that, if you are in the area and are taking your dog for a walk, you might want to avoid.

You see, Overtoun Bridge, in Milton, Scotland has a very strange history - countless dogs have killed themselves there over the years.

The animals hurled themselves over the edge, plummeting 50 feet to the rocky ground below - and no one has a clear cut explanation as to why this is happening.

Dogs began their bizarre suicides in the 1950s, where around one dog every year would throw themselves of the parapet.

These aren’t random acts either as there are common factors in every suicide.

Each dog has thrown itself off the same side of the bridge and the weather has been clear in almost every instance.

Even the breed shows a pattern, with long-snouted dogs like labradors, collies and retrievers being the predominate victims.

More than 50 dogs have died at the spot over the years, with several killing themselves in one six-month period.

Similar breeds: Long-snouted dogs like labradors make up most of the deaths (Rex)

Dog owner Kenneth Meikle previously described the moment that his own golden retriever, Hendrix, jumped off the side of the bridge - and survived.

He said: “I was out walking with my partner and children when suddenly the dog just jumped. My daughter screamed, and I ran down the bank to where the dog lay and carried her up to safety.

“As I did so, her hair started to fall out. It must have been shock because when we got her home, she shook all night.

“Next day, thank goodness, she was fine. We were lucky because she landed on a moss bed which broke her fall.”

So what possible reasons could there be for these mysterious deaths - and are supernatural forces at work?

Believers in paranormal activity believe the bridge, built in 1895 by Lord Overtoun, is actually haunted, describing the structure as a ‘thin place’ - somewhere where the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead are at their closest.

This crossover between Heaven and Earth would mean dogs - who some believe are more sensitive to the world of the paranormal - could be seeing ghosts and spirits.

Suicide spot: The bridge lies beside Overtoun House In Scotland (Geograph)

Some believe this would ‘spook out’ the dogs, leading them to unexplainable acts or being drawn to certain areas of the bridge.

Believers think that more weight is added to this theory as it is not just dogs who have died violent deaths at the site.

In 1994, Kevin Moy threw his two-week-old son Eoghan to his death from the bridge because he believed that his son was the incarnation of the Devil himself.

He then attempted to commit suicide, initially by attempting to jump off the bridge before his wife managed to pull him back - before he started slashing his wrists.

Following his arrest, Moy told police that he was trying to save the world by killing his baby.

Donna Cooper, whose collie Ben had to be put down after suffering severe injuries when he jumped from the bridge, said of Moy: “Rumour has it that he was on drugs, but he insisted the place was haunted and it does seem to have a strange effect on people and dogs.”

Those who try to take a more logical approach have still not come up with a definitive answer - but they believe it may have something to do with smells.

Animal habitat expert David Sexton was tasked with investigating what exactly was causing the dog deaths on behalf of the RSPB.

Culprit: Some experts believe the dogs are attracted by the smell of minks (Rex)

Eliminating anything a dog could see or hear on the bridge, Sexton focused on what they might be able to smell, after apparently discovering mice and mink in the undergrowth on the side of the bridge where dogs had been throwing themselves off.

A test of ten dogs from breeds that had killed themselves at Overtoun found that only two showed no interest in the smells - with seven heading straight for the mink scent when let loose.

The smell from the top of the bridge could be attracting the dogs to the side and from their lower viewpoint, they would be unaware of the drop until they fell.

This would also help explain why the deaths occurred on sunny days as rain would not have washed away the scent.

However, the theory that the smell of mink urine is luring dogs to their deaths was shot down by local hunter John Joyce, who said in 2014: “There is no mink around here. I can tell you that with absolute certainty.”

One other theory is that the dogs are able to pick up on the emotions of their owners - many of whom live in nearby Dumbarton, often voted one of the most depressing places in Britain to live.

Were the dogs simply feeling similarly depressed? That’s even if the owners were themselves - and, reportedly, none of them did.

Whatever the real reason, there is one thing for certain - if you do decide to take your dogs to Overtoun Bridge, you should probably keep them on a lead…

Top pic: Geograph