A New Zealand man living in France with his physician wife and three children have been forced to flee their idyllic home after neighbors charged that they were mutilating cats and selling them for experiments.
According to TVNZ, Wellington native Blair McEwan claimed locals on the 18-mile-long Ile de Re, which sits off La Rochelle the west coast of France, had targeted him since he loaned a cat cage to a friend and a woman's cat went missing.
The couple told the New Zealand Herald that rumors then circulated in the village of La Flotte-en-Re, where the couple moved in 2009, that they had tortured up to 200 cats.
Among the tales were circulating were that the couple painted acid on the cats' paws or hammered nails into their heads, while others were captured and sold for vivisection in Swiss laboratories.
In December, he told the Herald, a group of about 40 people marched to their house and stood outside for a "minute's silence" to commemorate the cats.
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Island residents had then resorted to other measures, such as smearing excrement on his property, bullying his kids and painting a Swastika on the door of his wife's medical practice, McEwen said.
"People took matters into their own hands. It was like something out of the Middle Ages," he reportedly said, adding that he complained to police, "but their lack of action made matters a lot worse."
"We are definitely going to move on. You can't operate in such a situation, in such a village, with the craziness of all the people," Dr Vidouta said.
Ninemsn.com cited France's Sud Ouest newspaper as reporting in January that the family may have been singled out because they were not from the island.
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