Sunday, August 21, 2011

⅏Did You Know: The 'Dog-Suicide' Bridge of Scotland

Did You Know...

In the past half-century, some 50 dogs have leapt to their deaths from the historic and picturesque Overtoun Bridge in Milton, near Dumbarton, Scotland?
During one six-month period in 2005, five dogs jumped to their deaths.

Overtoun Bridge, Scotland
 Pic by Duchess of Bathwick

Donna, one of the people who, on a family walk in 2005, lost a lively Border Collie named Ben. She and her husband were walking happily onto the bridge with their young son as the dog was exploring. Suddenly, without warning, Ben jumped onto the parapet wall and dropped out of sight.   He fell 50 ft. to his death below.

There have been numerous other stories similar to Donna's.  All of the deaths have occurred at virtually the same spot, between the final two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge, and almost all have been on clear, sunny days.
Furthermore, the dogs which have perished have all-been long-nosed breeds: labradors, collies and retrievers.

Could It Be Dog Suicide?
The phenomenon had received international attention, and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had sent representatives to investigate.
The bridge was 'tested' for any supernatural anomolies since in Celtic mythology, Overtoun is known as 'the thin place' - an area in which heaven and earth are reputed to be close.  But nothing out-of-the-ordinary was revealed.

So could it be suicide?  David Sands, an animal habitat expert stated it was impossible for a dog to premeditate its own death and that whilst many animals appear to be able to ‘sense’ that their death is imminent it is wrong to humanize a dog in terms of human behaviour - even though some infirm animals are known to seek out a quiet sheltered place to experience a final resting place in what we would call a dignified end to life. 

Kendal Shepherd, a veterinarian behavioural specialist, stated a similar conclusion: 'Human suicide is usually precipitated by a feeling that tomorrow will not be any better than today.
'But there is no evidence to suggest dogs have a sense of now and tomorrow.'

So if it wasn't supernatural or suicide then what was causing these dogs to jump to their deaths?
More recent research suggests that it may be the scent of minks, an animal known to live under the bridge.  David Sands discovered there to be mice and mink residing in the underbrush of the bridge. In a test, he distributed odor from all three species in a field and unleashed ten dogs - of the varieties which have died at the bridge - to see which one most interested them. Of the ten dogs tested, only two showed no interest in any of the scents while 70 per cent made straight for the mink.



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