Cat advocacy community is mourning transporter killed while driving rescued cats to SC sanctuary

The cat rescue community is in mourning this week following the tragic death of one of our own. A well-known and beloved cat transporter of death row rescues was killed in a traffic accident over the weekend.

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Janice Lockamy, 60, was killed in a car accident July 2 while transporting 21 cats from Tampa Bay Animal Control in Florida to Suzy’s Zoo Sanctuary for Special Needs Kitties in South Carolina. Her husband, Kent Frank Lockamy, 69, was seriously injured. The Brandon couple were both wearing their seatbelts and alcohol wasn’t involved in the crash.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, at 3:29 p.m. their 1999 Toyota 4Runner was traveling northbound on I-75 near Brooksville in the outside lane when it left the roadway. After entering the east shoulder the 4Runner then traveled back across the roadway where it collided with the concrete barrier then crossed back onto the roadway. The vehicle overturned and came to rest upright on the shoulder.

The injured cats were taken to Hernando ACC. I have a tentative list of the missing cats from Cindi Tanksley who is in contact with Suzanne Melton of Suzy’s Zoo. Gavin, Trixie, Jackie, Jade and unnamed kitten are known missing at this time. Animal Control in the area is trying to help set traps for them near the Sherman Hills Golf Course in Hernando County. It is unknown if undocumented cats were also on board. Suzanne will likely make a post to update.

Frank was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital with what are described as serious injuries. He has a long road to recovery ahead, both physically and emotionally. Please help this family if you can and feel free to leave a comment below to remember her. Janice never asked for a dime and wouldn’t even accept gas money for transport.

bottle baby survived the crash (safe in foster care)

Her dedication to getting the cats to where they needed to go will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

This article will be updated as information becomes available. The fundraiser link was removed. It was someone trying to profit from Janice’s death. Anyone who gave is asked to submit a fraud request for a refund.

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101 thoughts on “Cat advocacy community is mourning transporter killed while driving rescued cats to SC sanctuary”

  1. Though I live in L.A. Metro and have never met the Lockamys, I feel a personal sense of loss because each and every one of us in the feline advocacy community is “family” and the loss of any one is the loss of a hero. My heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Ms. Lockamy, as well as *PRAYERS* for Mr. Lockamy, their beloved cats, and all of the cats in transport including those I pray will soon be found, unharmed, and gotten to loving safe haven. This is a devastating loss and I personally hope that we all remember Ms. Lockamy and be inspired by her legacy as we continue our work for the cats and kittens we all love so much.

  2. so sorry for your loss to the family and to the community especially the kitties rescue and transports and to the sweet babies hers and her hubby and also to the ones hurt in accident and to the ones still missing.ive had 5 kitties come to me from shelters and I thank God everyday for them and also for both the transporters and safety for kitties. so heaven gained another angel.

  3. You do realize that with 100+ cats on site that the last thing in the world she has time for is being online answering every inquiry she gets. They DO give tours but you have to schedule them, not just show up. She adopts out the ones that can be adopted out, with vet and reference checks on every single one. You say you don’t know her, but yet, you seem to think you’re qualified to judge her?

    1. Before making dangerous comments that bash a well known rescue get your facts. Fake News! Have you met Suzy? Have you been to her place? I have spoken with Suzy for hundreds of hours. I live several hundred miles away and we have found the time to get together several times. I have personally observed Suzy rescue a feral mama cat and her kittens. Calmly, using a towel she was able to pick up the scared mama and put her into a kennel with her kittens. I have seen numerous followup photos as the kittens have grown. I did have to ask Suzy a few times for pics. She took plenty and is super busy. When you are living and breathing cat rescue day and night, organizing pictures and posting or emailing them is NOT a priority. I have numerous photos of mamed, beaten, tortured cats and kittens that Suzy has taken in. I have seen X-rays of severe fractures caused by people. I have never sued anyone in my life. If someone posts lies like this about Suzy please identify yourself using your REAL name and I’ll have my attorney take action. This is unproductive and the time and energy is needed to help these cats and kittens rather than try to interfere with helping them.

      1. Suzanne Melton is by far, one of the most transparent, sincere and HONEST rescuers I’ve met in over 15 years of being involved in hands-on special needs cat rescue. She is meticulous in her practices which are all in line with veterinary and rescue SOP’s and will directly answer any questions she is asked about the cats or her sanctuary and it’s operations. To besmirch her good name in a time of grieving is not only morally reprehensible behavior, but it is also immensely cruel. I challenge any and everyone to go and see for themselves, speak to her local ACO who does unannounced site inspections or ask suzanne directly any question you may have…. she is the “real deal” and a true asset and blessing to the many cats who society would otherwise shun.

      2. I agree. This post is suppose to be about a valued life LOST. Get it? SOMEONE D-I-E-D. Why dont you start a new, whole other pisy & discussion about the validity of Suzy’s Zoo, names of hoaders, and all things similar. That IS much needed. BUT not here.When my Mom passed 2 years ago, I would have been very hurt and upset to see people arguing about stuff on her death notice which was suppose to be about her. I get that you needed a platform to launch and I WOULD like to hear about it, BUT NOT HERE, POST A LINK TO YOUR PAGE discussing it. Would you like people doing this to YOUR Mom’s, or loved one’s article? I doubt it.

  4. This is an anonymous comment. It is not from me but it is interesting but I have not checked whether it is factual correct although the source sounds very fair and believable:

    Janice Lockamy was a wonderful person, I knew her personally, not just on facebook but in person. We are all shocked by her loss.

    Thank you for your kind article honoring her. I am praying the rescue community comes together to help her personal pets, all of whom are rescues. She has always had many pets and fosters.

    Suzy’s Zoo, however, is another story. I hear from numerous rescues, shelter volunteers, fosters and other transporters, that she has received hundreds of cats from Florida shelters, and she refuses to give updates on these cats’ outcome. No one knows where they are, where they went, if they are alive or dead. She refuses any update on the Tampa cats, when asked where they are now.

    She takes many healthy animals (not just special needs) and these vanish as well. No one is allowed to visit her “sanctuary”, of any who have asked. Few photos are posted, certainly nothing showing the hundreds of cats she has “rescued”.

    Are they still there? (That would be literally hundreds upon hundreds of animals from numerous states) Are they being fostered? Adopted? Are they being sold to research labs (after their pledge money has been collected from their kill shelter rescue)? Are they being released outdoors after being house pets?

    Literally over 200 from the Tampa bay area alone have gone there, many more from other shelters.


    There is another story here with a possibly less happy tone, with Suzys Zoo.

    If Suzys is a real rescue, she should have an outcome on every cat, who is fostering it, who adopted it, names of the people, contact phone number and real address, and a paper trail on every single cat she has taken in.

    Janice she saw the good in everyone.

    She also unknowingly drove a lot of cats to what are very likely hoarding situations at best and killing centers at worst. Not just Suzys. Other places too.

    God bless her, we will miss her friendship.

    1. I whole-heartedly agree with your expressed concerns about the “sanctuary”. The numbers are staggering … the expenses … the time and energy, it’s all beyond reason and common sense.

      There are no adoption events, no posts for adoptions, no “available” albums. Transporters are met away from Suzy’s property, and while it is stated that an open house will occur, or people can visit, neither happens. Ever.

      Just this one transport contained over 20 – ONE transport! Where are these hundreds, maybe even thousands, of cats??! How are they given any individual care and love? Are the healthy stored with the unhealthy??

      Come on advocates, how many YEARS will you blindly continue believing that a couple of humans never reach a limit to how many cats they can properly handle??? It’s so illogical, yet so few want to question the future of cats sent to Suzy’s!!

      1. Elisa Black-Taylor

        A news reporter from the upstate has visited her sanctuary. So has animal control on the many occasions they’ve been called by concerned cat advocates who were suspicious of whether the cats were being cared for. I’ve seen the reports where she passes every time.

        She has dozens of photos on her personal Facebook page where she’s also explained healthy cats are in a different area than the positive kitties. I’m not sure how large the sanctuary is but like I said before the article is to honor Janice and not to bash Suzy.

        1. Yeah, once she posted pictures of where some cats were housed ~~> pictures of the ceiling.

          She has time to post photos of the jewelry she makes …

          Another time, 3 – 4 concerned rescuers, transporters drove a very long distance and were turned away. They witnessed blocked windows (from their car), and cats running loose. Tell me, since Suzy is so busy, why does she pick up cats herself, or meet and transfer to her own car? Because she doesn’t want others on her property! Why not request that the transports arrive at her sanctuary??? We insist on home checks, yet show me where anyone of late has been welcomed and has posted pictures of this so-called sanctuary. Does Suzy solicit volunteers to help??

          BLIND TRUST – can a couple of people take care of 1000 cats, or if there aren’t 1000 cats, then where are they?

          Sorry, but one day this sanctuary and extensions of this dumping ground will all come to light. Until then, naive humans will keep moving cats to an unknown fate.

          It’s gone on for years.If a place can’t afford a new washing machine, then how can she vet, feed, house … bowls, litter … for hundreds??

          1. Elisa Black-Taylor

            All I see is what she posts on her Facebook and she shows where the funds go for vet bills. I hope I’ve convinced her to think about posting to Instagram. It would be a quick way to show the cats are taken care of.

            I’ve invited her to comment on this article and address all of this since this article has had more than 36000 page views in 2 days. It would be a great time for her to set the record straight about what happened to all the cats.

          2. You do realize, Melinda, that many of the cats Suzy takes in are FLV positive, would be killed immediately in a shelter, and have a very limited lifespan anyway, right? Surely you know this, since you seem to know everything about Suzy’s Zoo and how it operates.

            You want to know where those “thousands” of cats went? If they weren’t adopted out, they passed naturally from their FLV or other disabilities–or, they continue to live happily being well-cared-for.

            Not sure why you’re so quick to judge. Have YOU been there? Have you visited, walked around, met Suzy, met the cats? Or are you just forming an uneducated opinion based on what you may have scrolled past on Facebook?

            1. Jeanne, Melinda’s point is that there is no transparency at the sanctuary,so of course she hasn’t seen what is going on. Lack of transparency usually means trouble for the animals. If Suzy has nothing to hide, she should act like it. Anyone to deposits cats or dogs to a situation like Suzy’s is playing Russian roulette with the animals’ welfare. That is totally irresponsible since there are too many bad rescues and hoarders. If she is a nonprofit, I think she would need to file an annual report wiyh the state. That may yield skme information. I recommend that anyone who is concerned not be shamed about it. I applaud your concern. That is what intelligent animal lovers do. I wouldn’t hesitate to call the head of animal control in her county, express my concern and ask for a new inspection. They should know what is happening at Suzy’s. If everything is as it should be, then Suzy should have no problem showing them around!

        2. Could it be that people are still upset over Julian Westbury and Barb Hart-less? I met Barb Hart-less several times and never knew she was mistreating cats and dogs. I almost transported cats to Westbury. I have transported to a cat hoarder in Greensboro,NC and he still has cats. I fought like hell for those cats and nothing changed. I have enemies because of Thomas the cat hoarder. I don’t know Suzy and I stopped transporting because of the horrors I saw. There were good foster homes and good rescues too. Look at Fostermom Debby in Charlotte. Wow her own vet called RCAS and told them to not let her rescue anymore animals. I called AC on her and her cats went to Thomas in Greensboro. So nothing changed for those poor innocent cats. God knows what happened and people will be held accountable. Christina the cat rescue from hell in Locust,NC is another horrible nightmare from hell rescue. Ugh!! Ask people that have been to the homes to the rescues. If anyone warned me about Christina’s house of hell nightmare rescue my cat Niki the American Curl mix would be with me right now. #catslivesmatter

          1. Niki the cat is DEAD thanks to Christina Marie E locust,NC rescue from hell. I am sure Fostermom Debby has another house of horror. If you want to know who you shouldn’t send cats to PM me on FB. I refused transport cats to snow camp,NC. There is a great rescue in Boone,NC and I would trust her with my cats. Christine Z is a trustworthy rescue.

            1. I don’t understand why someone is bashing Suzy when a woman lost her life and there are cats missing and her husband is hurt. I have my hands full with my 4 RCAS cats,Bill’s 2 and my daughters 3 plus her dogs. Schedule an appointment for a tour, go check her out and then make a decision. Get off your behind and be proactive. Help transport, donate money,share the fundraisers and pictures. Pray for that woman’s family. They suffered a loss and I know how that feels.

    2. This is absolute crap. It’s someone who’s jealous of Suzy’s Zoo, and seems to think that because Suzy isn’t on FB 24/7 giving updates on EVERY SINGLE CAT ALL THE TIME, she’s a hoarder/liar/whatever. It’s just ridiculous, and I’m tired of seeing it.

      1. Tracee, have you been inside Suzy’s to see what is going on there? No one expects 24/7 updates but it sounds like this place has no transparency. That should be unacceptable to all but ghe most naive among us!

    3. This is crap, Michael. Anonymous accusations should not be given the time of day. ‘No one is allowed to visit her “sanctuary”’ is a lie. “I hear from numerous rescues, shelter volunteers, fosters and other transporters,…” Who?
      And if you want to know if these things are true, get off your dead bum and go there. But make an appointment first. You won’t get in my house if you show up unannounced either. “…she refuses to give updates on these cats’ outcome.” Did you ask? Who did? Who can produce evidence of Suzanne’s refusal to give updates? Michael, giving a platform to an anonymous basher lowers you to the same level. You should be better than that.

      1. Susan, I don’t believe that this person is a ‘basher’ because there is a lot or praise in the comment. He/she is not a troll. You are being far too harsh in calling my decision ‘crap’. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

        1. Really? Quote me one comment in that anonymous diatribe you shared that praises Suzy’s Zoo. There is praise for Janice, yes, but that was not my focus. They are bashing Suzanne and they are being far too harsh. I stand by my criticism.

          1. I think, on balance, it is relevant and newsworthy to report on the shelter to which the transport was heading even if it is a sensitive subject. After all transporters create this network. They are part of the network. It is important that the shelters they serve are of good quality. As long as we are sensitive towards Janice and her husband I think it is acceptable.

    4. This Anonymous comment here is just plain BS !!
      NO rescue group gives out WHO adopted what cat with the adopters phone number and addresses !!
      That is STANDARD practice when you do animal rescue and adoptions, simply because the adopters dont want to be hasseled or victimized by these facebook nutcases that always want to scream WHERE DID THE CATS GO ??
      The cats where adopted out PERIOD thats where they went.
      And its no ones dam business to WHOM they where adopted out to. Every rescue group does adoptions and has all their paperwork where each cat is sent and all adopters are subjected to a background check and home check usually again standard practice, but that still does not mean that a rescue group has to publish publicly their adopters names or other info. In fact a adopter can sue a rescue group for publishing their names phones and addresses.
      But I guess these facebook nutjobs didnt think about that did they?? Again, unless you have physically been to that rescue groups facility then do not cast stones PERIOD !!! Because all you are doing by bashing rescue groups WITH NO PROOF of wrong doing is harming innocent cats and making it near to impossible for a rescue group to keep saving lives!!
      I am so sick of these nutjobs that forever grow in numbers that are just down right plain evil scumbags preying on rescuers that are only trying to save lives and get little thanks as it is for Gods sake !!!

  5. My heart is hurting for Janice, her husband , the kitties, Suzy Melton and the cat rescue community. I didn’t know Janice personally but our paths crossed sharing and networking shelter kitties and I know she was a very large presence in their rescue! Having transported kitties myself I know the importance and we will all miss her very very much !!

  6. Whispurring woods

    Such a huge loss. To her family and to the family of rescue. Soar with the angels dear friend. Many babies are there to greet you.

  7. As a rescuer and small time transporter..i can say what a loss for the whole community..tranporting is a hard job physically and emotional and financially…they did it all..i will b praying that he will recover quickly..

  8. Susan E Hileman

    I never knew Janice and don’t know Frank, but I am truly crushed by this news. In my opinion, anyone who takes time out to take rescued kitties,some who have been abused and
    some who have special needs or maybe it’s just a kitty that is going to a new home, all of these people are angels. R.I.P My Sweet Angel—–You Were Definitely Doing Gods Work,
    and you, Frank I wish Peace, Joy and Comfort as You Go Through This Extremely Difficult Time of Your Life. I know it won’t be easy for you, but through time the physical aspect will get easier. Lastly, I pray that all 5 of the fur babies are found alive.

  9. So sorry for your loss, I do rescue and transport some. It is a hard thing. Prayers to the family.

  10. This is such terribly sad news. My sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Janice. Best wishes to her husband Frank for a full recovery.

        1. Elisa Black-Taylor

          That is strange. When I first wrote the article it was set at $5,000. When I checked again it was set for $10,000. Now I’m hearing the money wasn’t going to be used for burial and family expenses and that people are asking for a refund. Sounds like someone got a bit money hungry.

  11. contact your local shelter or humane society. They have need for transporters and can give you links to follow on the web and on FB. Also search for Imagine Home or The Catz Meow Transport service on FB. Or on the internet.

  12. I’m praying for you dear Frank .I’m so sorry for your loss Janice was a lovely lady with the most beautiful heart ever she had a big love for furbabies and that is a beautiful thing .we will never forget Janice for all the great work and caring she did . My prayers for you will never condolences to you. Xx

      1. Does anyone have any updates on the missing kitty’s ? Or how the others are doing? Such a sad situation when people are transporting animals to go to a better life I would pray that where they are going is far better than what they came from . If all these people that are rescues are harming these animals then something needs to be done about it there was a woman and her boyfriend that were getting cats from the pound on the pretense of being rescues and were taking them and throwing them out different areas of Nc and Va most if these cats were from indoor only homes these despicable people have gone to trial and their punishment was next to nothing she uses a lot of different aliases it is so heartbreaking to see this happening Mrs Janice and her husband did all they could out of the goodness of their hearts and love for animals and the cat community has lost their angel . I pray that more can be do e to regulate and keep an eye on some of these so called rescues paperwork inspections and photos updated should be readily available when asked for the thoughts thst one of my cats could go to a situation like that is devastating . Prayers for all the transporters out there and for all of Janice’s family

        1. Elisa Black-Taylor

          I read on a thread somewhere that he’s home now. I’m not sure about the situation with their personal cats. I don’t know if he’ll be able to care for him or if they’re going to temporary or permanent rescue.

  13. And these are the things we will never understand. How can tragedy fall upon someone so loyal and dedicated to saving the lives of animals? May she RIP and may God hold her husband safely in His arms while he goes through numerous recovery stages.

  14. Linda Shkuratoff

    This makes my heart ache. Your labors of love will never be forgotten. Rest in peace sweet angel. Frank, praying for a speedy recovery for you physically and emotionally. Thank you for all your labors of love. Bless your hearts.

  15. Frances A Danna

    This is so sad. Janice and her husband are very special people. Sending prayers for Kent Frank, their family, and the injured and missing cats. :'( <3 <3 <3

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