Fourteen-month sentence for dogfighting organizer

His vocation was to nurse the sick and injured. His avocation was the savage blood-sport of dogfighting.

On Friday, a northern Missouri man who played a role in the largest dogfighting operation ever uncovered in the United States was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison.

Chris E. Bottcher, 49, of Gilman City, was one of seven defendants charged in federal court in western Missouri last year when authorities broke up the multi-state operation and seized hundreds of animals.

More than 20 people were charged in Missouri and other states.

Bottcher, who worked as a registered nurse at a hospital in Bethany, Mo., was host to dogfights on his farm in which money was wagered. He also shot animals that did not meet the expectations of their handlers.

Two other defendants in the dogfighting case also were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City:

Kevin P. Tasler, 52, of Jefferson, Iowa, was ordered to serve six months of house arrest as part of a three-year probationary period. He also was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Ryan J. Tasler, 43, of Woodward, Iowa, was placed on probation for two years and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

Another co-defendant was previously sentenced to 16 months in prison. Three others have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Besides the criminal charges, federal prosecutors are seeking ownership of several dozen pit bulls owned by Bottcher, the Taslers and other defendants in the case.

Prosecutors also are seeking a court order that would require the defendants to compensate the organization that has been caring for the seized animals.