According to local researchers, more than 300 dogs jumped off the Overtoun Bridge in Dumbarton, Scotland.
|The Overtoun Bridge & Manor|
The Victorian bridge was built in 1895 and has long since been a popular spot for people to walk their dogs. In the 1950s, locals started referring to the bridge as the "Dog Suicide Bridge", and according to many dog owners, their dogs became "possessed" before jumping off the bridge into the ravine 50 feet below. Even dogs on leashes would break free before taking the leap. At least 50 dogs died from the fall.
In 2016, Lottie MacKinnon could sense something change in her dog Bonnie as they approached the bridge. "At first [Bonnie] froze, but then she became possessed by a strange energy and ran and jumped right off the parapet." Fortunately, Bonnie survived.
There are two theories to why the dogs are jumping off the bridge.
According to Paul Owens, a teacher of religion and philosophy in Glasgow, "After 11 years of research, I'm convinced it's a ghost that is behind all of this." Some local residents agree with this theory - especially those who grew up hearing stories about the "White Lady of Overtoun," the grieving widow of John White, who lived in the Overtoun manor near the bridge. "The lady lived alone in grief for more than 30 years after her husband died in 1908," said a Dumbarton resident. "Her ghost has been lurking around here ever since. She’s been sighted in windows and walking around the grounds."
According to Dr. David Sands, a renowned animal behaviorist, it is most likely the strong scents of mammals, particularly minks, living in the gorge below the bridge. The dog goes after the animal, not realizing the changes of the path from the ground to the bridge, and falls. From a dog's point of view, the "tapered edges might make it look like a safe, flat plane."
"The question is, why this bridge? Why Overtoun Bridge over all the other bridges that are here in this country? It could be that this [place] has this unique recipe of wildlife, of structure, of the number of dogs that are crossing it,” Dr. Sands said in an interview.
Whatever the case, scientists don't believe the dogs are intentionally trying to kill themselves.