Board Members

Joe Caruso - Chair
Joe Caruso is an acknowledged expert in the field of corporate governance with more
than 12 years experience as a member/chair of numerous corporate and non-profit
boards. He is currently a Senior Fellow for The Governance Center at The Conference
Board and previously served as Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary of the
Guardian Life Insurance Co. Joe was a founding member of CCPT and has provided
therapy for more than ten years with his dogs.

Erick Spronck - Treasurer
Erick is a Licensed Certified Public Accountant in NJ and PA.  He is the owner and
manager of ESCA Tax Services providing income tax preparation to the general public
and a sister company, Spring Woods Accounting Services, which provides accounting
services to small businesses.  Erick has a certified therapy dog through CCPT and
has raised puppies for Canine Companions for Independence.

Kathleen ODonnell - Secretary
Kathleen is an Adult Nurse Practitioner specializing in stroke in neurological
rehabilitation. Though currently retired, she was also the Administrator of the Atlantic
Rehabilitation Institute and Msgr. Corr Stroke Center in Morristown for over 25 years. In
this role, Kathleen initiated the first pet therapy program 20 years ago at ARI and had
six of her dogs over that time working as certified pet therapy teams. In fact, the first pet
therapy dog ever certified by CCPT in 2012, was Kathleen’s pet Pomeranian, Lily.
As a founding board member of CCPT, Kathleen was able to facilitate the long-term
relationship between CCPT and the Atlantic Health System.

Peter Brody, DVM
Peter received his degree in Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State in 1978 and
began practicing in New Jersey in 1979. In 1997 he formed Murray Hill Veterinary
Associates in New Providence with two partners and continues to practice there. Peter
lives in Gillette with his wife and enjoys travelling. They have two grown sons. As a
founding Board member of CCPT, Peter and his CCPT certified Border Terrier, Kevin, provided many years of pet therapy visits.

Julie Appleton
Julie Appleton is a transactional attorney with more than 20 years experience. She has
worked as in-house counsel for international Fortune 500 corporations and law firms,
and has additional experience working as a management consultant. She is currently
Vice President, Corporate Real Estate Counsel at Anywhere Real Estate Inc.,
headquartered in Madison, New Jersey. She was a board member for Bike/Walk
Morristown and continues to volunteer for the organization by leading the weekly open
dog walk. She was a CCPT certified pet therapy team for several years, and is now
busy training Gabe, her Labrador Retriever, to be a CCPT pet therapy dog in the near

Janice Tierney
An educator and administrator, Janice holds certifications in early childhood, elementary
and special education.  Her experience working with students and faculty extended
across all of these environments and included her CCPT therapy partner, Mulligan. 
One of CCPT’s first, grant funded, in-house therapy teams, Mulligan and Janice were in
school daily supporting students, faculty and staff while also visiting other district
schools and participating in events.  An active volunteer in community settings, Janice
recently retired and welcomes the opportunity to build awareness, educate and support
the priceless impact of pet therapy.

Mary Beth Cooney - Executive Director
Mary Beth is a seasoned administrator with more than 25 years of experience in non-
profit management, event planning, volunteer facilitation and fundraising. She has
always been interested in holistic healing and is an active volunteer herself for her local
Rotary Club. With her skills and experience, Mary Beth is carrying on the excellent work
begun by our co-founders, Annie Murphy and Joan Baer, and furthering the growth of
Creature Comfort Pet Therapy.  Mary Beth is certified for pet therapy with Coby, her
family Shih Tzu.  Her favorite activities include hiking, gardening and walking Coby and
his mom, Maggie.

In Memoriam (1954-2024)

Joan Baer - Co-Founder
Joan Baer co-founded Creature Comfort Pet Therapy in 2011 along with Annie Murphy. She began her business career in IT, working for IBM and Silverline Building Products Corp, but later turned to raising her family and volunteering in many areas, including 13 years on the Board of Gill St. Bernard's School in Gladstone, NJ.  Along with her husband, Sandy, she raised 10 puppies for Canine Companions for Independence (service dogs for people with disabilities other than sight). She started CCPT doing visits with her Labrador Retriever mix Konar. In the end, Joan was certified for pet therapy with her Golden Retrievers, Sweet P and Samson. Joan's vision for Creature Comfort will continue on while helping thousands more people.