"We got a phone call from the Department of Agriculture asking if we could help them and take in approximately 17 dogs which had been removed from a property and were in bad condition," said Lysa Buehler, shelter manager for the Joplin Humane Society.
Authorities say the dogs were malnourished and neglected.
Four dead dogs were also found on the property.
The property owner had moved, leaving his neighbors to feed the dogs until he could return to get them.
Sandra Topper was one of those neighbors, and says the animals always had enough food and water.
"We have been feeding them morning and evening every day," said Topper. "He had three giant bags of dog food up there and since he's been gone they've only gone through two giant bags. There's one left... so they were never unattended. Never."
But Buehler says that many of the dogs weren't being properly cared for.
"Some of the dogs were in better shape than others," said Buehler. "The boxers appear to be in pretty good shape. Not too thin, just a little thin. The schnauzers are very matted, some of them are very very thin. They all had very bad teeth. They're going to need some major dental work. The Bostons are also thin."
Some of the dogs will be available for adoption soon, while others will need more care before they're ready for a new home.
"At this point, the schnauzers and the Bostons we're probably gonna be looking to get into rescue because they're going to need a bit of TLC before they're ready to go into general homes," said Buehler.
Multiple charges are expected to be filed against the owner in the coming weeks, including animal abuse and animal neglect.