17 May 2024

Food for thought: Wagga vet graduate’s mission to boost pet nutrition across Australia

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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man with elephant

Veterinarian Ryan Haste hopes to make a positive change in the Australian pet food industry. Photos: Supplied.

It was destiny that Ryan Haste’s path to becoming a vet was set while he was growing up with animals on his family’s property.

Growing up in Arcadia in northwestern Sydney, the vet graduate knew his future career would revolve around animals.

Although Ryan had several career interests while in high school, becoming a vet was something he always saw himself doing.

“My mother is a vet with a focus on equine practice, so I was exposed to animals – mostly horses – and veterinary practice from a very young age,” he said.

“We moved around Australia a lot growing up, even spending several years abroad in New Caledonia, and throughout it, I spent a lot of time helping her, so I naturally developed an interest in the profession.”

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Ryan’s love and passion for animals led him to pursue his Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University; however, the 2024 graduate’s path to achieving his goals wasn’t straightforward.

“I didn’t get accepted into the degree on my first application, so I studied the Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science for a year instead,” he said.

“While not getting accepted was initially disheartening, radiography was a great course, and I got to meet many great people. The knowledge was directly applicable to vet science.”

veterinarian operating

Ryan in the operating theatre.

While pursuing his education, Wagga became Ryan’s second home for more than six years.

“There were a lot of great things about studying at Charles Sturt, but one in particular is the prime location, as Wagga is a town with (almost) everything you need – especially good coffee,” he said.

“There are great opportunities for socialising and sport, both on and off campus.

“Most importantly, though, the experiences I have had and the friends I have made are some that I will remember for life.”

veterinarian operating

Ryan is now working in Newcastle, where his pet food idea was born.

Ryan has started a new chapter working as a veterinarian in Newcastle and one day, after chatting with the owner of his now-regular cafe, his interest in pet nutrition was sparked.

He was speaking with the cafe owner about their dog’s stomach issues when a business idea was hatched: to create handmade, locally sourced, human-grade pet food.

“When I’m not at the vet clinic, I’m also working with my new business partner to develop a pet food company, Pet Pantry,” Ryan said.

“While nutrition wasn’t a huge interest of mine at university, my short time in the workplace has identified a huge gap in the market for good-quality pet food.

“Most of this stems from Australia’s poor regulations surrounding pet food, but that’s a conversation for another time. In addition, many patients I see have ailments that can be aided fully or partially by changing or correcting their diet.”

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Ryan hopes to contribute to positive change in the pet food sector by spending time honing his skills and knowledge and gaining experience.

“At some point, I think I’d like to dip my toes into emergency medicine, or I may even consider specialising or undertaking a residency somewhere,” he said.

“There are many paths I could take, but I won’t make anything concrete at this stage – we’ll see what happens.”

Ryan has some wisdom to pass on to those unsure of what to do in life.

“If I could lend some advice, it would be that the most important thing is to find something you love doing and do that every day – don’t settle for unhappiness.”

You can keep up with Pet Pantry via their website or Instagram page.

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