This Is The Mysterious Bridge Where Dogs Go To Commit Suicide

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Across the world, there are numerous historical structures that continue to fascinate the public. Indeed, from castles to old estates, people are still drawn to these areas today for a variety of different reasons, some of them rather grisly. In Scotland, one such location provokes fascination for reasons as mysterious as they are disturbing, whether you’re a pet-lover or not.

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The location in question is known as Overtoun House, West Dunbartonshire. Located close to the town of Dumbarton, the house was constructed over a three-year period in the early 1860s. In the mansion’s grounds lies a bridge that has since spelled doom for many a poor mutt.

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Once complete, a man named James White moved into the mansion with his family, who made it their home for the next few decades. It passed to his son John in 1891, before he in turn died some 17 years later, leaving his widow behind. In the opinion of several local denizens, the house has since been haunted by John’s grief-stricken wife, referred to as the “White Lady of Overtoun.”

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But despite the apparent haunting, that’s not the biggest mystery surrounding the estate. The Overtoun Bridge, which leads directly to the house, spans a very large drop. In the last six decades, large numbers of dogs have reportedly jumped off that structure, which has earned it no little notoriety.

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John White, who took on the title of Lord Overtoun when he relocated to the estate, made a big decision during the early days of his tenure. In 1892, he bought some of the surrounding land, including an area known as Garshake. However, the owner of Overtoun House soon encountered a significant problem, which led directly to the creation of the now-infamous bridge.

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Wheeled transport struggled to get to the house, because of the severity of the climb on the existing drive. So with that in mind, Lord Overtoun looked to remedy the issue by building a new bridge. Construction took three years, with the new access finished in the summer of 1895.

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Comprised of square-cut masonry known as ashlar stones, Overtoun Bridge spans a drop measuring roughly 50 feet. A small brook can be found at the bottom, called the Overtoun Burn. In addition to that, the stream is also surrounded by a ravine of sorts, which is covered in vegetation.

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After Lord Overtoun’s death, his relative Dr. David White became the new owner of the estate. Nonetheless, his widow stayed on the property until the early 1930s. A few years after she left, Dr. White, himself an infrequent visitor, decided to donate the estate to members of the local community.

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Now, more than 80 years later, the Overtoun House estate continues to be a picturesque location, and its bridge remains in regular daily use. However, according to some, the mansion itself is haunted by the spirit of Lord Overtoun’s wife. Indeed, one local insisted that this was the case in an interview with The New York Times newspaper.

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“The [Lady of Overtoun] lived alone in grief for more than 30 years after her husband died in 1908,” Marion Murray told the newspaper in March 2019. “Her ghost has been lurking around [the Overtoun House estate] ever since. She’s been sighted in windows and walking around the grounds.”

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Surprisingly, though, the estate’s biggest mystery lies beyond the allegedly-haunted house. Overtoun Bridge has recently become a site that’s attracted plenty of curious visitors due to some ill-fated events. One notable incident occurred back in 1994, when a man named Kevin Moy crossed the bridge with his family.

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No one could have foreseen the tragedy that then occurred. “Tormented Kevin Moy, 32… threw his two-week-old son to his death from a bridge because he thought the child was the devil” reported Scottish newspaper The Daily Herald from the ensuing court case in February 1995. Moy and his wife Eileen had been taking Eoghan for his first outing on a sunny October day.

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Fate brought them to Overtoun Bridge. The Daily Herald report described the horror that was then to unfold. “Moy suddenly dropped the baby to the wooded banks of a burn 42ft below, then tried to throw himself over, but was dragged back by his screaming wife.”

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Due to the wounds sustained in that fall from the bridge, Moy’s son sadly passed away a short time later. However, the nightmarish situation didn’t end there. “The couple were taken to Overtoun House, where Moy grabbed a kitchen knife and slashed his wrists before being arrested,” the 1995 newspaper report noted.

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Moy was found not guilty of murder, with a jury unanimously deciding instead that he was insane. The Daily Herald reported, “The High Court in Glasgow heard how Moy came to believe he was the Antichrist and that his son was Satan…He also feared they would destroy the world by infecting mankind with a virus.Later he told police he had to save the world by killing both his son and himself.”

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Over a decade on from that tragedy, Overtoun Bridge hit the headlines again. During that period, a story emerged about a dog jumping off the structure, with British newspaper the Daily Mail contacting its owners. As readers quickly discovered, though, this wasn’t the first time that a canine had thrown itself into the ravine.

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Back in 2005, a woman named Donna Cooper strolled across the bridge with her family and their pet dog Ben. While traversing the structure, the collie approached the edge of the wall and suddenly jumped over it. Unfortunately, the severity of his injuries left the veterinarian with very little choice.

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“[Ben’s] paw was broken, his jaw was broken and his back was broken and badly twisted,” Cooper told the Daily Mail in October 2006. “The vet decided it wasn’t worth putting him through the pain, so we had to let him go.” From there, she spoke about the impact that Ben’s death had on her young son Callum.

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Cooper added, “Nearly a year on, Callum still asks about Ben. He was very upset by the dog’s death and wants to know if his leg has been fixed in heaven.” However, as the story progressed, another dog owner sat down for an interview with the newspaper, revealing that he went through the same trauma.

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It transpired that Kenneth Meikle was also out on Overtoun Bridge when his dog Hendrix decided to jump from the structure. Incredibly, the incident occurred at virtually the precise location where Ben had thrown himself into the ravine below. Thankfully for Meikle and his family, though, their pet didn’t suffer the same fate as the unfortunate collie.

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“I was out walking with my partner and children when suddenly the dog just jumped,” Meikle recalled. “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.”

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Meikle went on to reveal how Hendrix survived the 50-foot plunge from the bridge. “[The] next day, thank goodness, she was fine,” he added. “We were lucky because she landed on a moss bed which broke her fall.” And it has become clear that those two dogs weren’t the only ones to have leapt off the structure.

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In fact, according to the Daily Mail, canines have been jumping off Overtoun Bridge since the 1950s, with the death count standing at around 50 animals. Shockingly, five of those deaths occurred within a few months in 2005. Following the publication of that story, people started to show a real interest in the mystery.

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Since then, different groups have claimed that hundreds of dogs have leapt into the ravine. As a result, the structure has been dubbed the “dog suicide bridge.” With the area becoming more notorious by the year, people have offered up several reasons as to why this keeps happening on the estate.

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Some individuals think that the cause might be supernatural, harkening back to the ghost stories surrounding Overtoun House and the estate. Alongside that, it’s also believed that the area itself is a “thin place.” A term from old Celtic mythology, it described a location where earth and heaven were close together.

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With that in mind, Cooper looked back on the tragic incident involving Moy and his son, hinting that there might be a connection. “Rumor has it that he was on drugs,” she told the Daily Mail. “But he insisted the place was haunted, and it does seem to have a strange effect on people and dogs.

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That latter point was subsequently backed up by another dog owner, who watched her collie leap off the structure. “Something overcame Bonnie as soon as we approached the bridge,” Lottie Mackinnon told The New York Times in March 2019. “At first she froze, but then she became possessed by a strange energy and ran and jumped right off the parapet.”

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“I was sure [Bonnie] was dead,” Mackinnon added. “It was a miracle that she survived.” In keeping with the supernatural claims, someone else offered their perspective on the situation. A woman named Jenna recalled her experience of walking across Overtoun Bridge, touching upon the unusual sensations she felt at the time.

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“I’ve walked the bridge,” Jenna told website and TV channel Vice in April 2018. “The first time I reached a point, and it was as if the air got thinner and my stomach jumped, a bit like when you miss a step going down a flight of stairs. The second time, I just couldn’t stop feeling like something bad was going to happen.”

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Jenna then described what she saw on the structure during that second trip. “There was a woman with a dog at the edge of the bridge, and the dog would not take a step forward,” she added. “Later, I found out that a couple of dogs had jumped to their deaths from the bridge that weekend.”

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As for why the supernatural theories have been accepted by some, a local resident had his own thoughts. “People in Dumbarton are very superstitious,” Alastair Dutton told The New York Times in March 2019. “We grew up playing in the Overtoun grounds, and we believe in ghosts here because we’ve all seen or felt spirits up here.”

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However, according to some other individuals, there’s a simpler reason for the dogs’ actions. In the opinion of Bob Hill, who now lives in Overtoun House alongside his wife, the canines are being attracted to the scent of other animals below the bridge. Due to that, they feel the urge to pursue the smell.

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“The dogs catch the scent of mink, pine martens or some other mammal and then they will jump up on the wall of the bridge,” Hill explained. “And because it’s tapered, they will just topple over.” On that note, animal expert Dr. David Sands couldn’t help but agree with that theory.

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After asserting that the dogs weren’t committing suicide, Dr. Sands conducted some tests of his own in 2010. According to the results, long-nosed canines were indeed being lured to the smell of animals such as minks, mice and squirrels on the bridge. That piece of information also lined up with another point.

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It’s believed that only long-nosed dogs have been taking the leap off Overtoun Bridge, including breeds such as German Shepherds, collies and labradors. Some four years on, Dr. Sands then conducted another test on the structure, as he looked for more answers. Ahead of the experiment, the expert made an intriguing observation.

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“The question is, why this bridge?” Dr. Sands told the Science Channel in October 2014. “Why Overtoun Bridge over all the other bridges that are here in this country? It could be that this has this unique recipe of wildlife, of structure, of the number of dogs that are crossing it. Maybe that’s enough to make this bridge unique over all other bridges.”

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With that in mind, Dr. Sands focused his attention on one test in particular. Noting that dogs have generally poor eyesight, he attached a camera to the collar of his own pet on the bridge. By doing that, the behaviorist was able to gauge if the other canines could see over the edge of the structure before they jumped.

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“What we’ve got to do is get down to a dog’s level, and see that world,” Dr. Sands continued. “It’s different than ours. We’re elevated on average five or six foot, and so we’ve got a much greater perspective of the environment. The dogs have a very low level of perspective.”

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Following the test, Dr. Sands had a theory regarding the dogs’ pursuit of the scents. “They have no concept of what’s on the other side [of the bridge],” he added. “They can’t see the drop. Basically, they’re going from level ground to a 60-foot drop. And it’s only when they get to the other side that they realize what’s happened to them.”

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Meanwhile, Jenna had one last suggestion about what could be done to protect the dogs. “Local people have mixed feelings about the bridge,” she told Vice. “There are some who are too frightened to walk their dog over it, and avoid it completely. They need to put up a fence or something, they really do.”

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