Four men have been arrested and charged after police found 11 sheep hog-tied in a car on the outskirts of Hastings.
The animals were discovered in the small four-door hatchback about 1am on Wednesday during a regular police patrol, Hawke's Bay Today reports.
Constable Darren Cooper said it was only luck that none of the sheep died.
The sheep have since been returned to their owners.
The men will appear in Hastings District Court this week on charges of theft and ill-treatment of animals.