APD: Hammer attack leaves dog with fractured skull, suspect charged with cruelty

Austin Pets Alive! took custody of Karma and has been working with her for the last couple of months. (Courtesy: Austin Pets Alive!)

An Austin man is facing animal cruelty charges for allegedly hitting a dog over the head with a hammer, fracturing its skull.

Police say on December 3rd, a 911 caller reported she came home to find her brother, identified as Richard Mizell, age 52, taunting her dog with a hammer before hitting her on the head with the tool.

According to court documents, the woman said she had placed her dog, a 2-year-old pit bull named Karma, on a tether in the backyard earlier that day. At one point, she heard Mizell pulling his truck into the backyard and yelling at Karma.

The owner said Karma and Mizell don't really get along. She stated she could hear Mizell yelling at the pup, saying "it didn't belong there and that he was going to kill it."

When the woman went out to investigate, she said she saw Mizell swinging the tool at Karma. The dog, on the other hand, was jumping on her hind legs trying to get at the suspect. It was then when he struck Karma's head.

During the interrogation, police say Mizell argued he did it in self-defense. He stated Karma attacked him when he got home that day, biting him on the calf and dragging him to the ground. Nevertheless, EMS found no signs of the alleged attack.

Karma was then taken to an emergency clinic, where vets noted a fractured skull, hemorrhaging in both eyes and swelling to the forehead. Karma was given pain medications and monitored at Austin Animal Center for weeks.

Austin Pets Alive! took custody of Karma and has been working with her for the last couple of months.

“We know she came into the city shelter having experienced some unimaginable trauma and abuse at the hands of a person and we knew she needed some medical care and just some emotional help to overcome that,” said Mike Kaviani, director of life saving operations at APA.

Kaviani says Karma is a dramatic example of the resilience and unconditional love of dogs.

“She has really every reason to say ‘I don't want to be around humans ever again’ because of what she experienced and she's not saying that,” Kaviani said.

She’s still a little shy around new people, but Karma is up for adoption and ready for the next phase of her life, a loving home.

“We're looking for the right home that can go slow with her, ease her into life, ease her back in the real world to show her that the rest of your life is going to be amazing and you're going to forget about whatever happened to you,” Kaviani said.

Further investigation revealed Mizell has been identified by Austin Police as a Top Offender. His arrest affidavit states he has a total of 32 arrests and 21 convictions, including family violence, assault with a deadly weapon, burglaries, drug manufacturing and others.

Mizell was charged with cruelty, a state jail felony.