(NEWSER) – As far as nicknames go, it’s an unfortunate one: Dumbarton, Scotland’s Overtoun Bridge is known as the “dog suicide bridge,” and it’s a nickname earned under grim circumstances. The New York Times visits the bridge, which since 1895 has stood 50 feet above a gorge and which has seen hundreds of dogs—maybe 300, maybe 600—leap from it as if transfixed. At least 50 are believed to have died. Vice reported last year that the jumps occur from the same spot on the bridge’s righthand side and that the dogs who do go over are long-nosed breeds such as German Shepherds and Scottish Terriers. The “why” hasn’t been conclusively answered, but there are two leading theories.
The first is that there’s something supernatural afoot. “I’m convinced it’s a ghost that is behind all of this,” says Paul Owens, who did 11 years of research for a book on the subject. The second is that the dogs are attracted to the scent of the mink and other animals in the gorge below and don’t realize what they’re leaping into. The owner of the adjacent manor house believes that because the wall of the bridge is tapered, “they will just topple over.” Vice notes the mink explanation could possibly hold up in that the animal is very “pungent” and began living in the area in the ’50s, which coincides with the start of the leaps. One wrinkle: Overtoun is far from the only bridge in Scotland that crosses a location that mink call home. see more