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Mystery surrounds 'dog suicide bridge'

Posted on Friday, 26 June, 2015 | Comment icon 29 comments

What is causing so many dogs to jump off the bridge ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Allan Ogg
More than 600 dogs have inexplicably jumped off the 50ft Overtoun Bridge in a rural part of Scotland.
In a small village in the Scottish Lowlands there exists a 19th century bridge with a strange presence that is believed to be responsible for sending hundreds of dogs leaping to their doom off its sides.

Over the past 60 years the crumbling stonework has seen more than 600 dogs taking the 50ft plunge with many of them meeting an untimely end at the bottom. Despite several investigations in to the phenomenon nobody has been able to determine exactly what is influencing the animals to jump.

The problem became so bad that signs were erected to recommend that dogs be kept on a lead.

Some believe that a spirit, possibly that of Lady Overtoun, haunts the area and that it is her presence that prompts the animals to jump over the side.

"When Baron Overtoun, who built the bridge, died in 1908 she was said to have wandered the bridge griefstricken for years," said teacher and author Paul Owens.

For some reason only long-nosed dog breeds, such as retrievers, seem to be affected and the incidents only appear to happen on clear days.

Animal behaviorist Dr David Sands believes that the dogs may be getting attracted to the smell of small rodents known to live at the base of the bridge, perhaps not realizing the distance of the drop.

"When you get down to a dog’s level the solid granite of the bridge’s 18in-thick walls obscures their vision and blocks out all sound," he said. "As a result the one sense not obscured - that of smell - goes into overdrive."

"I think it was highly likely here at Overtoun Bridge that it was curiosity that killed the dog."

Comments (29)

Tags: Dog, Overtoun Bridge

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #20 Posted by Father Merrin on 27 June, 2015, 19:12
Could it be that because that they can sense earthquakes, do they think the bridge might fall down and so they jump? Case closed
Comment icon #21 Posted by Sakari on 27 June, 2015, 19:15
It's all my fault.....
Comment icon #22 Posted by Father Merrin on 27 June, 2015, 21:02
It's all my fault..... Couldnt agree more,
Comment icon #23 Posted by Rolci on 28 June, 2015, 0:58
Teach a mouse a labyrinth in Australia...
Comment icon #24 Posted by mskate on 28 June, 2015, 5:56
yes,Sakari-it is your fault! (jK) Keep the mice out of it!
Comment icon #25 Posted by NightScreams on 28 June, 2015, 12:45
Suicide. There has been many documented cases of animals apparently doing so and animals can suffer from severe depression just as we can. Here is one of thousands of examples: Another example that dogs are capable of the level of abstract thinking necessary to be able to contemplate ending it all, we have the incredible story reported in the Illustrated London News in 1845 about a Newfoundland dog that supposedly repeatedly threw itself into the water and refused to move until it drowned. The dog was rescued several times throughout this, but every time it was rescued, it would return to the ... [More]
Comment icon #26 Posted by Ell on 29 June, 2015, 18:06
WALKERS heading from the village of Milton in the Scottish Lowlands to the 19th century manor Overtoun House on its outskirts are stopped in their tracks at the end of their route by a warning that reads: "Dangerous bridge - keep your dog on a lead." The sign is there not because the neo-Gothic construction is in danger of crumbling into the waters of Overtoun Burn 50ft below but for another reason: in the past 60 years an estimated 600 dogs have jumped from the bridge, more than 50 of them to their deaths. If I recall correctly, I at an earlier time alre... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by wireddean on 1 July, 2015, 16:52
this was featured on a tv series a while back and it was found the dogs were chasing pine marten if i remember rightly
Comment icon #28 Posted by Harry_Dresden on 5 July, 2015, 10:31
Could it be that because that they can sense earthquakes, do they think the bridge might fall down and so they jump? C'mon... the dogs would have to be barking mad to think that.
Comment icon #29 Posted by nimsjo on 5 July, 2015, 13:09
I think at the time of jumping, dogs don't even realise that they are on a bridge. They must be strongly driven by a smell or a thought of having something down there from the bridge. Sometimes dogs get hyper active or over-excited on reasons that we don't realise. However, this might be the explanation of jumping of some dogs, but I am not sure why so many dogs jumped of the bridge.

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