The Overtoun Bridge is an arch bridge located near Milton, Dumbarton, Scotland, over the Overtoun Burn. It has gained public attention because of the unusually large number of dogs that have allegedly leaped to their deaths over a number of decades.

The Overtoun Estate is located on a hill overlooking the River Clyde, above the village of Milton and the town of Dumbarton. In 1859, James White, a rich man, bought over the surrounding areas with the purpose of building a mansion there. He intended for it to be a retreat from the busy city streets, and initially acquired 900 acres ; he soon increased this to 2,000 acres. White hired the well known architect, James Smith (Architect 1808 -1863) (father of the infamous Madeleine Smith), to design and construct the house. A farmhouse previously on the site was demolished to build the mansion. Smith died before his work at the Overtoun mansion was completed. The house, built on stone, was completed by one of his work partners. White’s family began living in the mansion in 1862.

In 1884, James White died, and leadership of his family was overtaken by his son John. John moved to the estate in 1891, after losing his mother as well. John White wanted the house to be expanded further, he came to an agreement in 1892 with a local pastor, reverend Dixon Swan, the heir to the adjacent Garshake Farm lands. Under the deal, John White was able to build an expansion to the mansion, consisting of a building to the west, known popularly as the West Drive. The eastern and western sides of the estate were split by a waterfall. To connect the sides, a road was built and the Overtoun Bridge erected.

John White died in 1908, being succeeded by Douglas White, his nephew, as mansion leader. The Great Depression of the 1930s reached the Whites, Douglas White did not wish to live in the country anymore and gave the house to the people of the municipality of Dumbarton.

During World War II, British government had the house’s interior utilities and furniture moved over to London. The house remained mainly isolated, but it was not damaged by the bombings of the nearby Clydeside shipyards.

In 1947, the Overtoun mansion was turned into a maternity hospital, with a fire destroying part of it in 1948. No one died during the fire, however, and the hospital remained in operation until September 1, 1970. In 1975, the British government decided to use the house as base for its Quality of Life Experiment. From 1978 to 1983, a religious group, the Spire Fellowship, utilised the home, and from 1984 to 1994, the estate was used by a group named Youth with a Mission.

The house fell into abandonment soon after Youth with a Mission left the area, but in 2001, a pastor named Bob Hill from Fort Worth, secured the property to build a centre for Scottish youth. Renovations to the house are currently underway to repair extensive damage and to better use the facility. Specifically, the services that will eventually be provided include but are not limited to: Youth Sports/Life Training, Residential Care for Expectant Teenage Mothers, Short Term Care for Mothers in Crisis, Family and Leadership Training, Counselling Centre, and Tearoom and Bed and Breakfast.

It is not known exactly when or why dogs began to leap from the bridge, but studies indicate that these deaths might have begun during the 1950s or 1960s, at the rate of about one dog a month.

The long leap from the bridge onto the waterfalls of the Overtoun Estate almost always results in immediate death. Inexplicably, some dogs have actually survived, recuperated, and then returned to the site to jump again. These dogs are known to the locals of Dumbarton as “second timers.” The dogs have mostly jumped from one side of the bridge, during clear weather, and have mostly been breeds with long noses.

The phenomenon has received international attention, and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has sent representatives to investigate. David Sexton, an animal habitat expert, 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. His findings were remarkable. Of the ten dogs tested, only two showed no interest in any of the scents while 70 percent made straight for the mink.