Earlier this week a 70-year-old District man had his beloved terrier, Chip, on a walk with him when a pit bull roared out, locking on to poor Chip and dragging him off between his incisors like antipasto. Urban life, whew! It's a dog-eat-dog world out there.

Mercedes, the pit bull in question, reportedly spent its days enjoying 20th-century living chained to a parked truck in an alley. La vie en rose, huh? From a privileged life like this you were expecting maybe Asta? Chip's owner was severely bitten too. "He could have killed me," the man said from his hospital bed.

Also this week, in Rockville, a woman and her toddler son were peacefully walking when three Rottweilers attacked and mauled them. The woman required 150 stitches.

Why not just buy a cougar?

Yeah, buy a cougar, strap a flea and tick collar around its neck to pretend it's a regular house pet, and let it roam free to devour the neighbors. When you see Spot digging up a bone, don't call the SPCA, call a forensic pathologist.

What happened to leash laws? This is kinder and gentler, the three of us -- me, Smith & Wesson -- walking Rover? What's gotten into these pooches? Is Milk-Bone making a blood-flavored biscuit?

A few years ago the big issue was pooper scoopers. How did we get from there to body bags?

Welcome to the Middle Ages. They used to guard the castle by building a moat and stocking it with alligators. Soon, we'll just put a Rottweiler in the hotel lobby. "Lassie, you've got comp time coming, take off. We've got RoboDog coming in."

How did it happen? Dogs used to be our best friends. Now we're their lunch.

What's next? Will the new TV season reflect this trend?

"Married ... With Pit Bulls." A new sitcom about a family of leering, oversexed imbeciles -- Mom, Dad and the two children -- who decide to make money in their spare time by boarding pit bulls, then wonder what happened to the kids. Episode 1: "Where's Annie?"

"Saturday Bite Live." With guest host, Sgt. Preston.

"G*N*A*S*H." Uproarious comedy about basic training for the K-9 Corps.

"L.A. Gnaw." Legal drama about a pack of upscale attack dogs who roam Rodeo Drive, snatching Fendi and Chanel purses from rich, bored, beautiful women -- and the animal rights advocate lawyers who defend them.

"Three's Company." Those lovable Rottweilers -- Jack, Chrissie and Spike -- take up residence in a three-bedroom town house. Episode 2: "Two's Company." Jack and Spike put a For Rent sign in the third bedroom's window.

"St. Bernardswhere." Residents in animal psychiatry attempt to rehabilitate wayward malamutes and return them to society.

"Designing Dobermans." A group of wisecracking Atlanta interior decorators get the assignment of their lives when they are asked to design new digs for a pack of hungry Doberman pinschers. Poor Suzanne, she can't run fast enough. Episode 3: "Reading the Will."

"America's Funniest Rottweiler Home Videos." Hysterical footage of playful Rottweilers caught in the act of maiming the neighbors. This week: "Flesh and the Feigenbaums."

(Incidentally, police reports show no incidents of wild dog attacks from 7:30 to 8 on weeknights. CNN shows "Crossfire" at that time. There's some thought that pit bulls think of Pat "Might I Share Some of Your Gefilte Fish" Buchanan as a role model, and stay off the streets, glued to their TV sets for that half-hour.)

Mercedes, the pit bull in the District, was clubbed with a baseball bat and a police nightstick with no apparent effect. Finally, a police officer shot and killed the dog. The three Rockville Rottweilers are in custody, with a hearing scheduled for Oct. 2 to determine their fate. The escalation of violence in everyday life is frightful, and the fact that so many people are buying these breeds of dogs is a graphic illustration of how aggressive people have become in response. Have you ever heard of a pit bull named "Fluffy"? Of course not. Attack dogs usually have names like "Satan," "Diablo," "Blitz" and "Kill My Landlord." In a sense the aggressive dog is a weapon, another caliber gun for an aggressive owner.

On the other hand, the terrified urbanite might see the same type of dog as a deterrent to other people's aggression. The other night, pulling up to a parking space on 18th Street in Adams-Morgan, my friend spotted a rough-looking man gesturing at her, indicating he was saving the space for her. Indeed, after she'd parked, the man approached her and said, "I held the space for you, I hope you'll be generous." Urban life, huh? She thought it odd since it was a spot on the street -- she'd never needed valet parking on a city street before. She also found it threatening. It's tempting to be flip and say, "I'll be most generous, my good man, I'll make a contribution to WETA in your name." But if you don't pay the extortion, maybe the man does something nasty to your car, maybe carves up the paint job, who knows? (It happens in Manhattan. Either you let the squeegee guy wash your windshield, or he accidentally drops an anvil through it.) She gave him $3, and the car was still in one piece when she returned from dinner. It's times like that when you'd like to have a Rottweiler in the front seat.