By Nick Mays
CANINE EXPERTS have rejected suggestions of a spate of dog ‘suicides’ at a 40ft bridge in Scotland.
Five dogs have jumped to their deaths in the past six months at the bridge at Overtoun House, Dumbarton, according to locals. The most recent was two weeks ago when an owner was unable to stop her dog leaping over to parapet for no apparent reason and falling 40ft to its death below.
The bridge, over a tributary of the Clyde, lies within the grounds of Overtoun House, an A-listed baronial building built in 1863 currently run as a Christian centre. It was the scene of a family tragedy in 1994 when Kevin Moy threw his two-week-old son to his death believing him to be the Antichrist. Just lately though, locals are referring to the bridge as "Rover's Leap".
"Dogs do not commit suicide. They have a strong fight or flight response," said Doreen Graham of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "The incidents at the bridge are of very great concern to us because we would like to understand why they are happening. Animals do not commit suicide. (This) shows the need for dog owners to keep their dogs under control. There is perhaps something over the bridge attracting the dogs’ attention."
"It is very weird for five dogs to have done the same thing at the same spot. There needs to be an urgent investigation of the bridge and what has happened. There must be a rational explanation," said Joyce Stewart, an animal behaviourist, who has never heard of a canine suicide but admitted the pattern of deaths was "abnormal".
Ms Graham added: "Dogs naturally have a very good ability to judge distances so it is possible there is something which is causing an optical illusion or enticing the dogs to jump. From photographs of the bridge it would appear that the tree canopy rises above the bridge and it may cause some sort of confusion to the animal, which thinks it is jumping to something solid."