Friday, March 04, 2005

Mystery of canine ‘suicides’ at eerie bridge

The ancient burgh has had its ups and downs. Being turned into a corner of Glasgow by the makers of River City may have been the last straw.But can it have affected Dumbarton so badly that even the dogs have lost the will to live?

Animal experts admitted yesterday they had no explanation for a spate of what appear to be canine suicides – all from the same spot.

At least five dogs have jumped to their deaths from a bridge over a burn at Overtoun House in the past six months.In the most recent case, a woman out walking her dog watched in disbelief as her pet suddenly vaulted over the parapet and plunged 40ft to its death.

The bridge attracts visitors and dog-walkers, but it already has an eerie past. It was the home of Lord Overtoun, owner of a huge chemical works and pillar of the Free Church, and was the location for a BBC TV series Tales from the Madhouse.

But neither the dogs' shocked owners nor animal behavioural experts have been able to explain why the pets have turned the beauty spot into Rover's Leap.

Joyce Stewart, a leading animal behaviourist who regularly works with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), said the pattern of deaths at the bridge was abnormal.