08 January 2006
By Rachelle Money
Investigators attempt to explain why five ordinary pets leapt to their deaths from a Scottish bridge
PARANORMAL investigators have been called in to investigate why dogs have been apparently killing themselves by leaping off a bridge.
Overtoun Bridge, which crosses a burn outside Overtoun House, hit the headlines in March last year after five dogs plunged 40ft to their deaths within a six- month period. No explanation was found for the behaviour, which has continued to baffle locals and animal experts.
Members of the Scottish Society for Psychical Research (SSPR) visited the site in Dumbarton last spring and documented sensing “ghostly ministers, a mysterious Victorian woman and grasping children”.
Reporting on her 10-strong team’s findings, leader Catriona Malan said: “There were several correlations in what people felt. Three people felt anxious, depressed and disorientated and four felt negative feelings.
“There were definite themes of children and several mentioned a Victorian woman in a grey shawl at the far end of the bridge.”
John from Glasgow, one of the team members, described his experience: “I felt lots of children grabbing my legs as I walked across and I felt drawn to the right-hand side. I felt very sick and uncomfortable at certain parts and sometimes it was as though I was sinking through the bridge.”
One psychic known as Mishka had a similar experience. “I got a sense of children being around and a negative feeling at one end of the bridge. You could analyse why the dogs are jumping till the cows come home, I honestly don’t know why they do it,” she said.
Another woman, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I got the feeling of a man who was possibly a minister. He kept saying he didn’t understand evolution. He said, ‘I can’t assimilate what I know as Christian with Darwin.’”
Malan said only one explanation as to why dogs were jumping off the bridge was given. “One psychic thought maybe a workman had fallen off the bridge to his death and his ghost was down in the gully calling the dogs,” she said.
The bridge was the scene of a tragedy in 1994 when Kevin Moy threw his two-week-old son Eoghan to his death because he thought he was the devil. Moy was later sent to a mental hospital for treatment.
Malan insisted none of the investigators had prior knowledge about the bridge and the only information she gave them was regarding the dogs.
The apparent dog suicides continue to intrigue animal experts. Joyce Stuart, a leading canine behaviourist, said: “I have never heard of a dog committing suicide and I don’t think for one minute they go along the bridge and suddenly think ‘I can’t go on’ and jump.”
She did offer one possible explanation: “One reason might be that the bridge is an optical illusion. At a dog’s level it looks like it’s a wall on either side so they’re not aware it’s a bridge but they can hear what’s going on around them and become too curious.”
Doreen Graham, for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: “Dog owners should keep their dogs on a leash when going across Overtoun Bridge. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”