Has the mystery of the ‘dog suicide’ bridge been solved at last?
As pets continue to take baffling death plunges, pastor says he can prove it's not a ghost luring them to their doom
For decades it has stupefied locals. One moment they are out enjoying a walk. The next they are hurling themselves off a 15m bridge and plunging to their deaths on the jagged rocks in the gorge below.
Now a pastor claims to have solved the mystery of why hundreds of dogs have reportedly committed suicide by falling off a rural bridge: the scent of small mammals.
Since the 1950s, Overtoun Bridge in Dumbarton, Scotland, has played host to a bizarre trend of canines leaping off it. Befuddled and grieving residents of the town, which is northwest of Glasgow, have blamed everything from witchcraft to paranormal activity.
However, they remain united in their insistence that the historic stone structure is now known as the “dog suicide bridge”. There is even a sign telling walkers to keep dogs on the lead.
Yet decades after the first recorded dog death, a Texan pastor living in a nearby manor believes he has the answer to expunge such supernatural theories.
“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,” Bob Hill told The New York Times. “And because it’s tapered, they will just topple over.”
The pastor, who runs a local centre for women in crisis, moved into the nearby Overtoun House with his wife almost 20 years ago and said he had seen several dogs suddenly dive off the bridge.
Despite Scotland being the “kind of a place where there is a lot of the supernatural” it was the smell of small mammals scurrying in the gorge that sent dogs into a frenzy and led them to break off their leash.
However, Paul Owens, a religion and philosophy teacher, disagrees with the theory. He has researched the dog deaths for 11 years and has even written a book about the mystery, The Baron of Rainbow Bridge: Overtoun’s Death Leaping Dog Mystery Unravelled.
He told the newspaper that a ghost “is behind all of this”. He even went as far as to identify it as “The White Lady of Overtoun” – the oft-sighted ghost of a local woman who died in 1908 and never got over the death of her husband.
In his book he also argues against the findings of David Sands, an animal behaviourist, who said it was dogs’ limited perspective as well as a possible “scent theory” that lured dogs to jump – yet even he admitted that the bridge had a “strange feeling”.
A spokesperson for Police Scotland said the force had not received any calls about suicidal dogs. However, she had heard of the rumour anecdotally.
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)