A young butcher, Alexandre Bally, put one on the pavement outside his shop in Nyon, 25 kilometres east of Geneva last month, but was ordered by police to take it away — or face a fine.
Bally was contravening a law dating from 1966 when he placed the 1.5-metre-high cow outside his store on November 7th to celebrate the first anniversary of his business, La Côte newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Police knocked on his door on November 16th, ordering him to immediately remove the offending item on pain of financial penalty, the butcher told the local newspaper.
Bally said he had initially wanted to place a bench in the form of a sculpture of a cow lying down.
But he was told that if this kind of installation was tolerated it would open the door to all kinds of objects being placed in front of shops.
Police chief Olivier Rochat said the existing law allows only sandwich boards to be placed outside stores, provided a request for authorization is made along with payment of a 20-franc annual fee.
“However, in this case it was not a sandwich board and the merchant had not sought authorization,” Rochat told La Côte.
The bylaw governing the issue is being reviewed but the police chief said he was concerned about potential problems of fluidity for pedestrians on the street and above all, equal treatment for all merchants, the newspaper reported.
But supporters of Bally have launched a Facebook page urging authorities to approve the bovine replica.
More than 435 people had clicked like on the "Rendez-nous notre vâche" page, which translates as: "Bring our cow back to us".
“A cow is nice but what do we do if the rival butcher wants to install a bull, if the florist wants to plant a tree,” Rochat told the 24heures newspaper, which also covered the story.
“We cannot refuse them if we accommodate another.”
The mayor of Nyon, Daniel Rosselat, told media that work on revising the by-law in question but the municipality had to find solutions that were applicable and equitable.