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Ruidoso tattoo artist helps evacuees learn about their homes, feeds pets left behind, offers hope amidst tragedy

Logan Flaherty (Fle), a Ruidoso tattoo artist, loads his truck with supplies for people and pets (and mannequin Ken) to head out and make his rounds
Logan Fle
Logan Flaherty (Fle), a Ruidoso tattoo artist, loads his truck with supplies for people and pets (and mannequin Ken) to head out and make his rounds

KC Counts talks with Logan Flaherty (Fle) about his efforts in the wake of the South Fork and Salt Fires. Followers have been keeping up with Logan on social media, under Loganz Ink, as he makes rounds to check on properties and feed pets. Listen to the full interview here.

Transcript from FM broadcast:

KC Counts: First, tell me why you decided not to leave.

Logan Flaherty: My family, we have a farm and my sister was out of town. Her dogs were staying at her home. And throughout the scare of the mandatory evacuations, it became apparent that I had to get back in there to evacuate our horses and her dogs. So, I rushed out through a back area and spoke with a local law enforcement that I knew and he allowed me to get back in to save our horses and my sister's dog. It became my goal to make sure everyone was OK at this point because I was one of the only ones that wasn't a firefighter or a first responder in our local area to be able to offer some assistance to their animals or their homes, and that was really important to me because I saw so many people mandatory evacuation, everyone was pushed out in such a hurry because of how fast this fire took over and how fast it grew, they almost couldn't get back to their pets and their loved ones, and so, these things were just such a heartfelt moment for me to do everything I can to give back to my community.

KC Counts: What's the first thing you did?

Logan Flaherty: I made sure that dogs and animals were safe on our end and then I had a few friends that called me and said, hey, I couldn't shut my doors, can you check on my cat? She's outside. So, I worked my way back in to town. There was areas that were blocked off. Anywhere with first responders, I made sure to stay out of their way, because they're all my buddies. Every smoke jumper here, I know all of their names, they're my brothers and sisters. A lot of my friends that work for the Forestry lost their homes, city workers lost their homes, our police chief lost his home. So, in this moment of their duress, I was trying to be their back up in a sense of these people you can't get to, you're too busy, let me help. So, they made me a first responder, fortunately, with the state police, with my care and knowledge of farms and animals, I just did my best to make people come to a little bit of ease with. Sending you a picture of your cat is fed safe inside the fires, not next to your house. Don't worry. And you felt them calm themselves and I realized that that I got factual information. That was what I was out here for.

KC Counts: Yeah. I mean, so many people. So, you went about going and then more people must have just been contacting you people, including people you don't on social media.

Logan Flaherty: Yeah, they became thousands and thousands of messages. Will you feed my chickens? Can you check on my house? And then it turned into 40 homes a day, 30 homes a day, hundreds of animals a day that I was caring for. And they're freaked out. You know, animals feel just as much as we do, so you can see the duress, even in their animals as well as their owners trapped out of town and at first I was searching for homes that were standing, and then I saw the outpour response of giving some sort of closure if we did lose homes and it was a mixed, it's mixed feelings because you have so much hope for their house and then you're then you're consoling them with a heartfelt moment that way they're not alone. You know, I'm. I'm such a emotional creature on this planet. And I I don't feel like that's fair to just send them a video and then not talk to them, so I would actually call them if I saw their house down, if I knew them, and hundreds of people, and I spoke on the phone, and then cried together, and it became a passion for me to be here for my fellow human, you know. To go back to your first question, was I out here alone? Yes, I did have support on the outside, but me, personally, I was driving around in my car alone constantly, and I got a little broken from what I was seeing out here. It was very, very hard. The things that we've seen are very much the worst things I've ever seen in my life, and I don't, I don't wish that upon anybody, and my father had this mannequin in the back of his truck when I was growing up our whole life for his alcohol distribution sales and his name was Ken, and he had Ken and Barbie, and Ken, I made a funny video one morning to cheer some people up, and Ken was a hit. Like, I got so many people like. Oh, that's funny that mannequin's funny, and so I put a can in the back of my truck and now he's the spokesperson for everything that we're trying to offer to these people that are working so hard. Our first responders are amazing. Our firefighters are amazing, our community’s amazing. Our village is amazing. Everybody started working together with me because they saw the positive energy I was putting out there. I keep getting all these awesome messages. Stay positive. There's been some times that I break down. I'm literally crying for these people on the side of the road and I don't even know them. It’s just what I felt because it's a disaster, it's traumatic and it's good to be a good human out here and trying to give back to my fellow person.

This post was updated to include the FM broadcast transcript.

KC Counts has been broadcasting to Southern New Mexico and West Texas audiences for over 30 years. KC is up early with listeners for "Morning Edition" weekdays, "Performance Today" from 9-11, "Here and Now" from 12-2, and on Saturdays. You might also see her on KRWG-TV.
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