Business owner remembered by friends as a true pet lover |

Business owner remembered by friends as a true pet lover

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
Kevin Vukota

A Carson City business owner who was well known by his four-legged as well as two-legged customers died this month of cancer.

Kevin Vukota, 56, took great pride in his work and his “furry children,” said his wife of 35 years, Linda Vukota. The couple owned Critter Junction and LaundraMutt, a pet supplier and self-service pet wash. Vukota’s love of animals directed the couple into the pet supply business.

“We had lost two dogs to liver cancer in 1997 and we learned that was partially (because of) the foods,” she said. “He went into a depth of research and that’s why we dedicated the shop to all-natural foods for cats and dogs.”

The Vukotas bought Critter Junction, in the Carson Mall, in 2000.

Jennifer Bauer, a customer for four years, remembers Vukota for the kindness he showed to her when her miniature dachshund, Lil, got sick. Connecting the dog’s illness to the type of food she was eating, Vukota gave Bauer a free bag of $9 California Natural food.

“It was after hours and he opened the store for me and helped me get a new food for my dog, and he followed her progress,” she said.

He helped again when Bauer’s Chihuahua, Sierra, was weaned too early. The Vukotas helped teach her how to eat and drink out of a bowl. Bauer said Vukota’s last wish before his cancer re-emerged was to start a no-kill shelter.

“The cancer spread rapidly and we didn’t get a chance to do anything,” she said.

After being diagnosed and treated for malignant skin cancer two years ago, Vukota’s cancer re-emerged in July. A follow-up exam in March showed that melanomas on his brain had grown. Chemotherapy couldn’t stop the progression.

Linda Vukota was beside her husband when he died April 6.

Even in the end, she said, her husband was hopeful about a recovery.

“One of our dogs, Nikki, came into his room and he said ‘Don’t worry, Nik, I’ll be on my feet soon. Don’t worry, then we can play again.'”

Linda Vukota said her husband went out of his way to make life comfortable for their pets. For Jessie, a dog with lupus, he installed a water filter in the pool so that she could swim in it, without the chlorine aggravating her disease.

Vukota opened his first business, DeJay’s Steamed Carpet Cleaning, after moving to Carson City from Livermore, Calif., in 1984. The business has closed.

Morgan McKinney, Critter Junction manager, said the Vukotas were like parents to her.

“Not only will he be missed by his two-legged friends, but by his four-legged friends as well,” she said.

Vukota leaves behind four Australian shepherds: Austin, Chance, Nikki and Frank.

In memory of Kevin Vukota

Linda Vukota, is hosting a memorial service for her husband, Kevin, inside the Carson Mall, in front of Critter Junction, at noon Sunday. For information, call the business at 883-4559.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.