If you’re in the area, there is a bridge in Scotland you might want to avoid in the event that you’re taking your dog for a walk. By way of history that you might not be aware of, Overtoun Bridge in Milton, Scotland, has a very strange history of any number of dogs plummeting to their deaths 50 feet to the rocky ground below — no one being any the wiser as to why this is happening.
These bizarre canine suicides began in the 1950s, where around one dog every year would throw itself off the parapet in what isn’t considered a random act either, given that there are common factors in every desperate plunge. Each dog has thrown itself off the same side of the bridge and the weather has been clear in almost every instance. And 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. Dog owner Kenneth Meikle previously described the moment that his own golden retriever, Hendrix, jumped off the side of the bridge — and survived. “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. The next day, thank goodness, she was fine. We were lucky because she landed on a moss bed which broke her fall,” he said.
So what were the possible reasons for these mysterious deaths — and were supernatural forces at work? Believers in paranormal activity believe the bridge, built in 1895 by Lord Overtoun, is actually haunted and describe the structure as a “thin place” — somewhere where the barrier between the world of the living and that 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. Some believe this would “spook out” the dogs, leading them to unexplainable acts or being drawn to certain areas of the bridge. Believers think more weight is added to this theory as it is not just the 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 the boy 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 the 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 Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Eliminating anything a dog could see or hear on the bridge, he 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 10 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 was 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.