Over the past five decades, more than fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge, near Dumbarton, Scotland. These so-called “dog suicides” are linked by three strange but intriguing factors. All of the deaths occurred at the very same spot on the right-hand side of the bridge. All of the dogs who died were long muzzle breeds like Collie, Labrador, or Greyhound. All of the deaths took place on bright, clear days.
Due to the number of these inexplicable canine deaths, this still popular and scenic location has been dubbed the “Dog’s Suicide Bridge.” Over six months in 2005, five dogs leaped to their deaths. One bereaved owner, Donna Cooper was out walking with her family when her dog, Ben jumped over the parapet and fell fifty feet onto the rocks below.
‘His paw was broken, his jaw was broken and his back was broken and badly twisted. The vet decided it wasn’t worth putting him through the pain, so we had to let him go,’ recalls Donna.
A few superstitious locals have claimed the bridge is haunted by an evil spirit. In 1994, thirty-two-year-old Kevin Moy threw his baby off the bridge after claiming he was the Anti-Christ, and his son was Satan. Shortly after he tried to end his own life with an unsuccessful suicide attempt from the same bridge. Moy was remanded to Carstairs State Hospital, a maximum-security psychiatric facility.
There has also been the equally strange suggestion that the bridge is situated in, what the Scots call, a “thin place” - a meeting of two worlds, where spirits from the “Otherside” have access to this world. Cue Scooby-Doo, some all-enveloping mist, the howl of a wolf, and a craggy-featured old Scotsman saying, “Ye dinnae want tae go doun yon road, naw. It be haunt’d by the De’il.”
More recently, another popular yet equally unlikely theory emerged, which suggested these poor unfortunate dogs were committing suicide. A leading Animal Behaviorist, Dr. David Sands investigated these claims and has pointed out, “it is impossible for a dog to premeditate its own death”.
Sands uncovered the most likely explanation for the dog deaths is the onset of mink farming in the area, which started fifty years ago:
Evidence of mink was confirmed in the area not only by a naturalist, who spotted droppings beneath the bridge, but also by [an angler], who explained that the top hill quarry had lakes that contained trout (perfect mink diet).
The intense scent of mink aroused each dog’s curiosity, leading to their fatal leap of faith.